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J Dent Hyg. 2007 Summer;81(3):65. Epub 2007 Jul 1.

Oral assessment of children with an autism spectrum disorder.

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Department of Dental Hygiene, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois, USA.



The study assessed the oral health status of children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to help establish the oral health needs of this population.


Oral assessments were conducted on 39 children with an ASD and 16 children with other developmental disabilities (DD), solicited from 3 different schools. Conditions assessed were bacterial plaque, gingivitis, dental caries, restorations, bruxism, delayed eruption/missing teeth, oral infection, developmental anomalies, injuries, occlusion, salivary flow, and oral defensiveness.


Chi-square and Fisher's exact test of significance were used to compare groups. Young children with an ASD who resided with parents showed significantly more signs of bruxism than the comparison groups. Likewise, older children who lived at the residential school manifested significantly more gingivitis. No other significant differences existed when age and residence were considered for children with an ASD. When comparing children with ASD to those with another DD, the latter group showed significantly more oral injuries, abnormal salivary flow, and developmental anomalies. Children with an ASD displayed the following percentages for clinically visible conditions: plaque (85%), gingivitis (62%), and caries (21%). Approximately half of the children with ASD were orally defensive.


Children with an ASD appear to have oral conditions that might increase the risk of developing dental disease. The extent of risk is unclear and needs further investigation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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