Dental Care Study for Patients with Autism

A little toddler seemed to be avoiding eye contact and showed no interest in the “peek-a-boo” game.  Another preschooler repeatedly flapped his hands and banged his head against the dental chair at his first dental visit.  The thought of visiting a dentist can be fearful at times for children, not to mention if the child is diagnosed with autism. As you may know, autism is a neuro-developmental disorder resulting in dysfunctional communication and impaired social interaction.  It is the most common childhood neurological disorder, making it more common than pediatric cancer, diabetes and AIDS combined. Despite this alarming statistic, there is a lack of research pertaining to dental treatment for children with autism. Caring for children affected by autism is especially challenging for medical and dental care workers. Many dental practitioners feel helpless with the care of these patients.  One of the barriers for accessing oral care for these children is the absence of an effective program to acclimatize them during dental visits.  As a result, children with autism often have a high caries risk, poor oral hygiene, and severe periodontal disease.

In an attempt to help with this issue, Dr. Phoebe Tsang and her dental team has recently pioneered a study through her education commitment at the BC Children’s Hospital.  This project was inspired by the improvement in cooperation she and her dental team has observed in some patients with autism, after using picture cards to introduce dental procedures to them.  The idea is this visual aids may help to calm patients with autism at their dental visits.  In the study, patients are invited to four successive weekly appointments in the dental clinic at BC Children’s Hospital.  Through learning by repetition, children with autism may experience less anxiety during their dental visits.  All dental procedures performed during dental appointments will be offered free of charge. Transportation costs will be reimbursed. It is a unique opportunity for anyone whom you think may benefit from this program. If you would like to receive more information, please do not hesitate to visit the following link:

Download: BC_Childrens_Hospital_Dental_Care_Study_Patients_With_Autism.pdf

or contact Dr. Tsang for more information (dr.phoebe.tsang@childrensoralcare.ca).

Dr. Tsang hopes that this project will help patients with autism gain positive dental experiences. She also hopes that this project could result in the development of an effective protocol which would increase the confidence and acceptance of dental professionals in the care of patients with autism.

dental care for patients with autism
Through the eyes of a patient with autism – SENSORY OVERLOAD