Perth is one of the best places to get a child with ADHD to see a dentist.
In fact, one in five children in Perth are diagnosed with ADHD, and the city has the highest rate of people with the condition in the world.
Dr Paul Smith, the head of paediatrics at Perth’s Fremantle General Hospital, has seen the effects of ADHD on children.
Dr Smith has spent years helping young people with ADHD with his practice, and now has an office on the top floor of the Perth Children’s Hospital.
He says it was the right choice for him.
“They (adults) had to go through the same process of being able to get the diagnosis, then they had to have the treatment,” he said.
ADHD can affect many different areas of the brain, including motor, speech and social skills. “
So that’s what we do, we teach the kids to work through the problem in a way that allows them to be successful, and we get them to work on their own and to find their own solutions to things that they don’t understand.”
ADHD can affect many different areas of the brain, including motor, speech and social skills.
Dr Simon from the Pediatric Dentistry of Western Australia said it was not uncommon for children with an ADHD diagnosis to struggle with learning.
“It is not uncommon that kids with ADHD are struggling with language and with maths, and that’s a real challenge for kids to deal with,” he explained.
“There’s definitely a lot of issues with that, and if you’re dealing with ADHD in an environment where you have a lot more people around, it’s easier for them to come up with a lot better solutions.”
Dr Smith said it wasn’t always easy for adults with ADHD because they were often the ones who were the first to be diagnosed, or had the most experience in the field.
“But when you have people with this condition, you don’t have to be the first, because that’s not who they are,” he added.
“We’re talking about people who have been diagnosed, but not necessarily the first one.”
Pediatric dentist Dr Simon said he was surprised by how effective the treatment had been for his patients.
“The children really do enjoy it, and it’s very rewarding, it helps them focus better and it helps their motivation,” he told RTE.
“One of the things that we’re trying to do with our patients is to teach them how to apply their skills in a professional way, so that they can achieve the goal they have set for themselves.”
Dr Simon also said the treatment was effective for children who had a history of problems with their speech or language.
“You can see that the kids have actually improved in the last six months, because we’ve had more and more patients coming in, and so they’re working on their learning in that time,” he noted.
Pediatric dental specialist Dr Paul Miller said it took a while for the impact of ADHD to take hold in Perth, but the treatment has worked wonders for his staff.
“People have been using it for a couple of years, but we’ve really been getting really good feedback from people,” he confirmed.
“And the kids are very happy to be learning with it.”
Dr Miller said his practice was able to address the root of the problem for his patient population.
“For the first six months or so, we had a very young population, and they were really struggling with their communication and their attention,” he stated.
“When they were able to have a few hours of downtime, they really began to develop some very strong and confident strategies to use that time.”
Dr Paul said he hoped that the treatment would eventually be used more widely, particularly for young people who had difficulties with their behaviour.
“If we can get kids to use it with their peers, it really opens the door to a whole other range of things, particularly to get kids in school,” he continued.
“That’s a good thing for our community, because a lot people have to work at school.”