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Pediatric or General Dentist for Special Needs Teenagers?

Posted by writeradmin

I am a foster mom and recently took some extra training in order to care for a special needs teenager. He’s sixteen years old and it is as if he is a child trapped in a man’s body. While he is a pure delight to have in our home, he does get a bit sensitive if people treat him as a child instead of as a teenager. Thus my dilemma. I’m afraid if I take him to a pediatric dentist that he’ll get offended and not cooperate. At the same itme, I need someone who is okay working with what is essentially a man-child. Do you have any advice for me?


Dear Molly,

young teenager smiling with braces

I think foster parents are amazing human beings. I’m thrilled you are doing this and I know the added stress of a special needs child is daunting at times. The good news is there are general dentists who do treat children. You would want someone who is good at working with children but whose office does not feel childish. They are completely qualified to treat children. All general dentists do a pediatric dental rotation.

One way to find out if they are good at children is to notice when they want to first start treating children. If they say they want to wait until they are five or older, then I would suggest to look elsewhere, even though your foster son is much younger. If they say two or three years old, then you can know that they really like working with kiddos and have some skill with then. It takes a special skillset to keep toddlers entertained and cooperative in the dental chair. If they can do it with a toddler, they can do it with a sixteen year old, even one who is special needs.

I’m going to make a suggestion that you ask them for a tour of the practice so your son can meet the staff. If you explain the situation, I am sure they will agree to that.

Best of luck.
I’m sure you will find the right dentist for your foster son.

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