Some families with a child with autism find teeth brushing challenging, so we work with them and their dogs to help reduce the stress in the household at teeth cleaning times. Watch the video or scroll down to read the captions.

Using a headrest can be really effective:

  • Whilst head rests or full body rests (for smaller breeds) are great for reducing the intensity of meltdowns, the deep pressure from a rest is also beneficial during relaxing times too
  • As long as there is a bond and the child enjoys interacting with the dog, the head rest can be used to “ground” the child in a stress free way. This keeps the child sitting still whilst their teeth are being brushed
  • The sensory feedback of the rest, as well as interacting (such as stroking) with the dog, can take the child’s mind off the teeth brushing and distract them
  • If the head rest is saved just for teeth cleaning then this can help create positive associations with a challenging time of the day
  • Lots of dogs do this naturally so it is a relatively easy intervention to encourage and reinforce.

Watch how we teach a headrest.

Find out more about our Family Dog service and Autism Assistance Dogs.

Video captions:

  • Did you know that dogs can help autistic children brush their teeth?
  • Learning that they need to look after their dog’s teeth can help them look after their own teeth.
  • Stroking their dog can take the child’s mind off the teeth brushing.
  • A headrest from their dog can relax the child and keep them sitting still while their teeth are being brushed.