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Barriers to dental care for children with autism spectrum disorder

Abstract

Aims

This study examined the problems encountered by children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), when accessing dental care.

Study design

This was a cross-sectional, case-control questionnaire study.

Methods

A piloted questionnaire was developed to identify the main barriers to dental care experienced by patients with ASD in Hull and East Riding. The study group was comprised of parents/carers of children with ASD, and the control group was comprised of parents/carers of age matched healthy, neurotypical children.

Statistics

Results were analysed using Chi-square and Fisher’s exact tests where appropriate. Significance was deemed at p < 0.05. Ordinal data was presented using medians and 25th and 75th centiles and compared using Mann–Whitney U test.

Methods

A piloted questionnaire was developed to identify the main barriers to dental care experienced by patients with ASD in Hull and East Riding. The study group was comprised of parents/carers of children with ASD, and the control group was comprised of parents/carers of age matched healthy, neurotypical children.

Results

112 subjects completed the questionnaire. There was no significant difference in accessing dental care between study and control groups (p = 0.051), although access was perceived as more difficult in the ASD group (p < 0.001). There was a significantly greater perceived difficulty in travelling to the dental surgery in the ASD group. Predicted negative behaviours were more frequent in the ASD group. All suggested interventions were predicted to be helpful in a significantly greater proportion of the ASD group.

Conclusion

Difficulties exist for children with ASD in accessing dental care in the Hull and East Riding area.

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Correspondence to S. Barry.

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Barry, S., O’Sullivan, E.A. & Toumba, K.J. Barriers to dental care for children with autism spectrum disorder. Eur Arch Paediatr Dent 15, 127–134 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40368-013-0075-y

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40368-013-0075-y

Keywords

  • Barriers
  • Dental
  • Autism spectrum disorder