Special Needs Dentistry

At Children’s Dentistry of Charlottesville, our dentists make a conscious effort to help children with special needs get the dental care they need. Our dental team has over 30 combined years of experiencing working with children affected by:

  • Autism
  • Down syndrome
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Seizure disorders
  • Anxiety/Depression
  • Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate
  • Heart defects
  • Other physical, cognitive, and mental disabilities

We’re compassionate and respectful of your child’s needs and sensitivities. We’ll make use of the latest advancements in Special Needs Dentistry to make your child’s visit as relaxing and comfortable as possible.

About Our Dental Services

We provide a full range of dental services for special needs children including:

Dental Exams


Fluoride Treatments


Sedation Dentistry

General Anesthesia


Restorative Dentistry

Emile W. TestimonialYou do such a wonderful job with my special needs son. Everyone has also been sweet and has taken things slow, while making sure he gets the care he needs.
He doesn’t dread the dentist anymore!

— Emilie W.

Sedation Dentistry for Our Special Needs Patients

While every child is different, when working with special needs patients, we may recommend the use of laughing gas (nitrous oxide), conscious sedation, or general anesthesia. These techniques make it possible for your child to safely receive the treatment he or she needs without unnecessary stress.

Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, may be enough to help some children with mild to moderate disabilities relax throughout their visit. Oral medications can provide what is known as “conscious sedation”, an even more relaxed state for children who:

  • Are especially anxious
  • Have a medical condition that requires deeper sedation than laughing gas provides
  • Can’t wear a nitrous oxide mask during treatment
  • Are unable to follow a dentist’s directions

If your child needs deeper sedation, we will recommend the use of general anesthesia. Under general anesthesia, your child will be fully asleep during his or her treatment. Your child will wake up and be drowsy for a few hours afterwards, but they should not experience any pain, anxiety, or stress during their dental treatment.

General anesthesia is often the best choice for children affected by autism or other conditions where laughing gas or conscious sedation aren’t warranted.

If you have questions about the sedation dentistry options available to your child, make an appointment today and speak to one of our dentists to learn more about your options.

What Our Patients Say


Chrissy HuberSuper friendly staff, extremely clean and sterile environment without being cold and harsh. my son is autistic and he even loved it! So happy to have found them!

— Chrissy H.


Call Children’s Dentistry of Charlottesville at (434) 817-1817 or contact us online to learn more about how we work with special needs patients.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you decide if sedation dentistry is right for my child?

We treat every child as the unique individual that they are. We’ll take his or her physical coordination, emotional state, ability to follow a dentist’s instructions, and your feelings as a parent or guardian into account before we make a recommendation for sedation dentistry. And we’ll continue to evaluate your child’s needs as he or she grows up. Some children who require general anesthesia at a young age will need less sedation (or none at all) in the future.

Can I accompany my child during his or her dental treatment?

Absolutely! We encourage parental involvement in your child’s dental appointment. You know your child better than anyone and your presence can be soothing, relaxing, and comforting.

Can my child return to school after his or her appointment?

It depends. If your child’s procedure was able to be performed with only numbing agents (like lidocaine) or nitrous oxide, it should be fine for your child to resume their regular activities right away. However, if sedation is required, your child will be too drowsy to return to school after his or her appointment. It also may take a few hours for any numbing agents to wear off, making speech, eating, and drinking challenging.

Depending on your child’s treatment and his or her needs, your dentist may recommend a few hours of relaxing rest and recovery before returning to their normal routine.

Do you accept insurance or Medicaid?

Yes! We accept Medicaid as well as many different insurance plans, including those from:

  • Anthem
  • Metlife
  • Guardian
  • United Concordia
  • Delta Dental
  • Cigna

What do I need to do to prepare for my child’s appointment?

Your child’s dentist can help you prepare for his or her appointment as well as prepare after-care instructions depending on the dental care they’re receiving.

To help us provide the best possible care for a child with special needs:

  • Be prepared to discuss your child’s full medical history with the dentist
  • Bring a list of any medications your child is taking (both prescription and over-the-counter medications)
  • Notify us of any sudden changes in your child’s health (such as developing a cold or flu)
  • Avoid food and drink a few hours before and after your child’s appointment
  • Choose comfortable, loose-fitting clothing to assist in the application of patient monitors
  • Bring a favorite toy, stuffed animal, or security blanket to help your child feel at ease
  • Follow any instructions regarding the appointment that are given to you by our dental team

Call (434) 817-1817 to Schedule Your Appointment

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