NEWTON, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — A trip to the dentist can be an unpleasant experience for many children, especially those with autism and other neurodivergent sensory disorders.
"When your kid has sensory issues, there’s an invisible world of hurt that surrounds them," said Christina Bowers, whose 19-year-old autistic son used to hate going to the dentist. "It got to the point with his teeth where he had infections, so we had to take him to a dentist and hold him down, which was terrible."
Then, Christina took her son to Bubble Children's Dentistry and Orthodontics in Newton.
"When we drove by this place, we thought it was like a play gym or something," Bowers said. "He immediately came in and was just, like, he unraveled."
Patients who enter Bubble are greeted with a moon jellyfish tank, a large humpback whale hanging from the ceiling, two large aquariums, and underwater sounds playing over speakers. It's a far cry from a typical dentist's office, right down to the color of the gear.
"In the hospital, doctors all have white coats," Bubble owner Dr. Anna Berik told WBZ NewsRadio. "You get shots from people in white coats. And so [nuerodivergent kids] learn to identify it with pain, so no white coats here."
Berik's goal is to ensure a future where both kids and adults actually like going to the dentist. That includes using a Fotona laser for needle and drill-free dentistry, as well as an iTero 3D scanner that digitally scans a child's mouth instead of using a putty-filled tray to make a dental impression.
"[We are] raising a generation of kids that haven’t had a bad experience at the dentist," Berik said.
And for that, Christina Bowers is grateful.
"We got out of the car today and he skipped down the block," Bowers said of her son. "Today was the first time he laid down in the chair and let Dr. Josh fully examine his mouth. He knows what typical kids do and he wants to be like that, and this place gave him that opportunity."
WBZ's Suzanne Sausville (@WBZSausville) reports.