Self-Care Chronicles: Brushing Teeth
Welcome to another entry into the Self-Care Chronicles. Today we will talk about brushing teeth and oral hygiene for people with sensory processing issues. Making sure to care for even these small areas can improve many other aspects of your loved ones life.
In Matthew 23:26 Jesus says, ““Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” He is talking about letting the inside reflect what is on the outside. Of course, he is criticizing the Pharisees for being hypocritical here, but the lesson is one we can apply to our situation as well: if we desire improved behavior and work towards managing sensory stressors, we must care for both the inside and the outside. We cannot just care for one area and not the other as if one has more significance.
The reality of diversity and uniqueness in the world of the senses doesn’t rest here. Some may love the sensation of having their teeth brushed, while others are overwhelmed by the very idea. We will review some great tips and ideas that can help make brushing teeth for sensory processing disorders a more pleasant experience.
- Choose an extra-soft toothbrush. Remember, even the dentist does not choose the very hard brushes so neither should you! Hard bristles can amplify discomfort on and around the gums. A soft bristled brush can change the uncomfortable to comfortable!
- Try a vibrating toothbrush like this one. The experience can be a fun sensory moment as well as a good hygiene one by allowing them to explore the interesting feel and texture.
- A training toothbrush may be what you need. While these are designed to gently massage and clean gums, they are an ergonomic choice for those learning to improve motor skills. The interesting texture can make for a fun sensory experience as well!
- No matter what products or strategies you choose to try, starting as young as possible and sticking with a daily routine will increase the expectation and likeliness to participate willingly.
Like so many things, finding the right oral hygiene routine for sensory issues can be trial and error. Take heart! You are not alone. Many people find brushing teeth to be a struggle because the sensitive gums are so easily over-stimulated. By establishing a routine and easing into the process of oral care, you’ll find that, in time, your child will willingly care for their teeth—or allow you to do so.
For more info and support on toothbrushing, check out the Sensory super-parents mastery training