Pediatric Dentist Stresses Early Care for Autistic Children
Steve Adubato talks with pediatric dentist, Dr. Cavan Brunsden, about his work with families with autistic children and his mission to help them understand the importance of being proactive in getting the help and early care they need, including dental care, from a young age.
"Steve Adubato here, another important program on oral health. We are joined by Doctor Cavan Brunsden. Yes. Who is a pediatric dentist and you just told me before we got on the air, this can't be true, you've been at this for 51 years? 51 years since I began the profession of dentistry in 1975. Now you just said that about ten years ago, you thought maybe you might change plans? Mm hmm. And then what happened? Well, what happened was about ten years ago, I was thinking of my transition into the next phase of my life, and my practice began to blossom in managing autistic children. And as I cared for them, and had to develop systems to properly manage them, I became more and more enthused about what I was doing, and the importance of it. And working with my team in my office, we have 50 employees who we train and dedicate to managing these children. From the business front of the office to the management of the children, through the dentistry. And we developed such phenomenal systems that I feel really empower to help these other dentists develop themselves into being the future. Doctor... So it's a very exciting part of what I'm doing. Sorry for interrupting doctor, you talk about children with autism? Mm hmm. What unique issues do they face when it comes to their oral health? Well, probably the single most significant issue is that autistic children are patternistic repetitive behaving people. They don't take to new experiences very well. Especially later on in their years. If I see an autistic child at age one, two, or three, they're very easy to manage, develop, and train into the systems of going to the dentist, for example. However, if I seem that same child at seven, eight, or nine, very difficult to come in and change their ways in their lives. We need to... Because of patterns? Pardon? Because of their patterns already? Yeah, they're very patternistic. They don't transition well. They don't take to new things easily. It takes many, many, many months to change an autistic child's acceptance of the situation. I have a child in my office, the mother tells me that in the Summer, it takes her three months to transition him from long pants to short pants. What a project for a mother to have to deal with. Hmm. Can you imagine having to deal with brushing his teeth? Taking care of his oral health? Taking care of all of the other needs. Hmm. Feeding him the right foods. Things of that nature. It's a full time job for a talented person, and most moms are not..."