A Mum’s Tips on Taking Her Special Needs Son to Mount Alvernia Outreach Clinic for Dental Treatment.

From January to March 2022, CaringSG and Mount Alvernia Outreach Clinic collaborated to enable 60 pairs of caregivers and dependents to receive free scaling and polishing services. Caregiver Karen-Sophia Neoh shares about her positive experience and tips for caregivers on how to prepare their special needs dependent for their dental visit.

I’m a full-time caregiver of a 19-year-old epileptic son with Global Developmental Delay (GDD) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). For people like my son, dental visits are terrifying. Having someone pry open their mouths and work on their gums and teeth causes them to feel intruded upon. He’s also sensitive to touch around his mouth and nasal areas. Hence, he was resistant to any dental treatment and needed to be restrained. Otherwise, he would break free and run away from his perceived “terrifying” experience. However, he does calm down eventually and scaling and polishing can be done to a satisfactory level.

I’m relieved to add that over time, with familiarity, he’s getting more and more receptive. If he cannot receive such treatment even after being restrained, I then worry about the risk and cost of having to put him on general anaesthesia (GA) for treatment.

However, there’re many special needs persons who’re not able to calm down and will need to be sedated for the dental treatment sessions, in order to stay still for the duration of the treatment. Parents would have to fork out a few thousand dollars just for the GA. GA presents health risks; hence it’s not just a difficult financial decision for us, but also one that affects our child’s/ward’s health. Many parents end up delaying treatment, but this accumulates their dental health issues which would not be addressed as quickly as they should be.

At Mount Alvernia Outreach Dental Clinic, our experience was a pleasant one. The dentist was very patient. Both she and the dental assistant were very good at managing my son, singing and counting to engage him and ease his overall anxiety. I believe that they will be good with younger special kids as well. It also helped that the clinic had a very relaxed atmosphere with no overcrowding and hectic schedules, which are common in most dental clinics.

How to prepare your dependent for the dental appointment

1. Plan in advance:
Caregivers, prepare your dependent way ahead by showing them pictures and videos of a visit to a dentist, reading social stories, familiarising them with dental equipment (some can be found at local and online stores), etc.

2. Prevent struggles:
For people with Global Developmental Delay and Autism, such mental preparation for anything outside of their routines and area of familiarity is particularly important as it will help to pre-empt any undesired behaviour such as aggression, physical struggling, tantrums and/or meltdowns.

3. Practise counting:
Mental preparation and practising through counting gives them a feel of how long they need to endure when they have to do something they do not like. They can also learn to keep their mouths open by simulating and practising mouth bites.

4. Desensitise the mouth and nose areas:
Massage helps those with hypersensitivity to touch while oral motor therapy could help mitigate various sensory issues in the mouth area towards proprioceptive and tactile sensory related issues.

Mount Alvernia Outreach Medical & Dental Clinics

$15* (Medical) and
$30* (Dental)
for all persons with special needs

* Please present PWD Concession Card / Developmental Disability Registry Identity Card / any disability membership card issued by various disability service providers or special education schools / a doctor’s memo indicating diagnosis

Please contact the respective Mount Alvernia Outreach Medical & Dental Clinic to make an appointment. Contact details are:

Medical Clinic @ Enabling Village
20 Lengkok Bahru #02-03
Enabling Village Singapore 159053
Tel: +65 6473 5100
Operating Hours:
Mon & Fri: 9a.m. to 1p.m. | 2p.m. to 6p.m.
Tue, Wed & Thu: 12p.m. to 4p.m. | 5p.m. to 8p.m.

Dental Clinic* @ Enabling Village
20 Lengkok Bahru #02-03
Enabling Village Singapore 159053
Tel: +65 6473 9100
Operating Hours:
Mon to Fri: 9.30a.m. to 1p.m. | 2p.m. to 5.30p.m.
*appointments are required

Dental Clinic* @ Agape Village
7A Lorong 8 Toa Payoh #02-07
Agape Village Singapore 319264
Tel: +65 6262 4313
Operating Hours:
Mon to Fri: 9.30a.m. to 1p.m. | 2p.m. to 5.30p.m.
*appointments are required