Title: Characteristics associated with successful dental treatment in children with autism spectrum disorder
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disability responsible for social, communicative and behavioral deficits. The prevalence of children diagnosed with ASD in the United States has more than doubled in the past two decades, from 1 in 150 to 1 in 68. Children diagnosed with ASD have a very high occurrence of certain comorbidities, such as developmental delay, intellectual disability and speech delay. Unmet dental needs remain high among children with special health care needs (SHCN), with 78% reporting the need for dental care within the last 12 months. Recent studies have focused on barriers to care for these patients; the child’s behavior has been identified as a major barrier to dental care.
This study was conducted to examine and provide an overview of characteristics of children with ASD undergoing dental care, specifically, an exploration of associations between patient demographic and health characteristics on the outcome of completing a cleaning.
A retrospective chart review explored ASD patient demographics (including, but not limited to, ASD diagnosis, a variety of active therapies, comorbidities listed above, behavior and level of communication) and related them to successful dental treatments. Comparisons were made using t-test, bivariate and multivariate analyses.
Patients reporting non-verbal communication took more visits to complete the tasks (3.26 versus 2.64, P=0.028). Hispanic ethnicity [OR 0.073; (95% CI 0.017, 0.315); P=0.000] and parental lack of knowledge related to patient cooperation [OR 0.078; (95% CI 0.018, 0.344); P=0.001] were significantly associated with lower odds of completing the tasks.
Educating dentists about key patient characteristics, including verbal/non-verbal communicative abilities, ongoing patient therapies, and cultural upbringings can potentially improve access to oral health care for children with ASD.