The aim of this service is to help establish patterns of dental care that will help prevent dental disease developing in the child’s mouth. This can be achieved by a combination of preventing dental disease and also helping the child feel comfortable when attending the dentist’s surgery.
Conventional dental treatment in the dental chair involving injections and drills would be very difficult for many TreeHouse School pupils for a number of reasons (eg. limited understanding of dental treatment scenarios; difficulty interacting with unfamiliar adults; possible past negative experiences relating to dental visits). Therefore, preventing disease is of utmost importance for these children so that they and their families can avoid the trauma of dental treatment under general anaesthesia.
Tooth decay and gum disease are completely preventable in children. Although we all know that the children at TreeHouse School have particular difficulties relating to their diagnoses which may mean that achieving good dental health may be a problem, experience has shown that there are many avenues to pursue so that a real difference can be made.
In order to make each dental experience as positive and productive as possible, the dentist will use information relating to (amongst other things) reinforcerment, communication (eg. verbal; PECS; Communication Book; Makaton; etc.), learning style, and diet with the help of staff members familiar with each child and their specific needs.
Dr Wendy Bellis has created a helpful guide for parents of children with autism: Visiting the dentist and dental hygiene - FAQs (PDF 248KB).
Wendy has worked with children with special needs for nearly 30 years in the salaried services, developing community programmes for early dental contact for this population.
Her main areas of interest are ‘Behaviour Management for Children’, which she has taught on the Doctorate programme in Paediatric Dentistry at the Eastman Dental Institute for over 15 years and ‘Dental Management of the Autistic Child’. Wendy lectures extensively on these subjects both nationally and internationally and has contributed to chapters in current and renowned textbooks in general and paediatric dentistry.
For the past 15 years her clinical work has almost exclusively been in the field of autism, and children who are on the autistic spectrum now represent approximately 90% of her caseload. Combining a knowledge of behaviour management, applied behaviour analysis and targeted prevention, Wendy aims to help those children who are on the autistic spectrum to achieve optimum oral health.
Wendy has been actively involved in the dental care of children at TreeHouse School since the mid 1990s and is well known to many of the pupils’ families.