Dental visits made easy for children with autism

Dr. Phoebe Tsang and her research team would like to extend a big thank you to all participants in her study, focused on helping children with autism cope with their dental visit, at BC Children’s Hospital (BCCH).  She was also very grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with BCCH psychologist, Dr. Janet Mah in the last few years.  Their hard work has been recently published in the Journal of Clinical Pediatric Dentistry.

Here is the abstract of the study for those who are interested.  You can find the full article in with the following citation:   Journal of Clinical Pediatric Dentistry Volume 40, Number 5/2016.

autism awareness

Visual Schedule System in Dental Care for Patients with Autism: A Pilot Study

Objectives:  A pilot study to test whether a visual schedule system using picture communication symbols can help children with autism have successful routine dental cleaning visits.

Study Design: 14 boys with autism between three- to eight-years-old presented to the dental clinic for four weekly consecutive dental appointments. Patients were randomly assigned to either the control group who received the tell-show-do method (i.e., standard of care), or the test group who received the tell-show-do method plus the visual schedule system.

Results: Patients in the test group completed an average of 1.38 more steps, at 35.52 seconds per step faster, and with 18.7% lower levels of behavioral distress than those in the control group.

Conclusion: The use of a visual schedule system, along with repeated weekly visits, showed some promise in helping children with autism successfully complete more steps, progress at a quicker rate, and exhibit lower levels of behavioral distress within a dental appointment, compared to a traditional tell-show-do approach.

Visual Schedule for dental visit

Back to school, back to the dentist! 5 resources to help low-income families get that necessary appointment for their childs dental health!

We, at the Children’s Oral Care Centre, advocate for children to see their dentist regularly as one of the keys to dental health.  Most of us get new haircuts, new runners for the beginning of a school year,  so why not take this time to go to the dentist and give your teeth a fresh start as well  if you haven’t been to a dentist for some time?

Dental visit is not covered under Medical Services Plan and if you do not have any private insurance, the cost for dental visit can add up. But before you get too worry, take a look at some homework we have done for you.  We have researched on some resources which can provide assistance for your children’s dental care.

Healthy Kids Program

This program is run by the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation and helps low income families with the costs of basic dental care.  Your child is eligible for this program if he or she is under the age of 19 and receive Medical Services Plan premium assistance through the ministry.  The coverage includes partial coverage of basic dental services.  There is a dollar limit which is renewed every 2 years.  Some restrictions apply, eg. some services may only be covered once a year, like exams, x-rays, or cleanings,  so you have to confirm with your dentist  about the coverage.

Contact the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation by calling:

1 866-866-0800 (Press 4 and then 2)

KEYS Dental Clinic

This is a non-profit dental clinic that offers free services to those on disability or income assistance.  If you do not meet those requirements the clinic does offer low cost cleanings and other services on the Ministry pay scale so they are less costly.    Children must be at least 10 years old to access this benefit.

10697 135A St. Surrey BC


SOURCES BC Dental Clinic

Peace arch free dental clinic offers dental services to low income individuals in the White Rock and South Surrey areas who do not have dental benefits.  They need to be contacted directly for further information.

Suite 208 1461 Johnston Rd. White Rock BC


UBC Dental Clinic

The UBC Dental Clinic offers dental services by students and supervised by professionals at reduced rates.  This service can be lengthier as it is a teaching environment but is more affordable.  They are open from September to May each year and appointments must be booked ahead of time.

2151 Westbrook Mall Vancouver BC



Provides hygiene services, cleanings are $30, but a time commitment is required. Hygiene services are done by students and supervised by professionals.

250 West Pender St. Vancouver BC


Happy schoolchildren showing their thumbs up.

Copyright 2014 The Children’s Oral Care Centre