The Oral Health Foundation in the UK is backing the use of children’s storybooks with dental narratives, following a new study which has shown they can be a highly effective way of helping prepare children with autism for a dental visit.
The research, published in Special Care in Dentistry, found that almost two-thirds of caregivers felt that dental stories were a useful tool for both themselves and their child in preparing them for a visit to the dentist.
The stories were delivered to children via a range of different media, with caregivers questioned before and after the stories to analyse the effect they had on the children’s attitudes to dentists.
The Oral Health Foundation believes the use of dental stories could lead to a significant benefit in the long-term oral health of children with autism, by helping to develop behavioural routines involving positive behaviour, such as tooth brushing.
Speaking on the issue, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation, said: “Many children with autism do not have the capacity to read and comprehend the feelings, experiences and motives of others and can have difficulty understanding the need for things many of us find simple. We have found that such activities like toothbrushing and dental visits can be particularly stressful for children with autism … which can lead to increased levels of oral health disease.
“By using dental stories, we can help them achieve an improved level of care and from this there can be real benefits to their oral health for life”.