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Building Bridges: Dental Care for Patients with Autism

Autism can severely impair the patient’s ability to communicate,
interact with others and maintain normal contact with
the outside world. Symptoms can range from very mild to
very severe. One in 150 individuals is diagnosed with autism,
with more than 24,000 children diagnosed each year. There
is as yet no definitive etiology for autism. It is important
that dental professionals seek out patients with autism
and be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of autism
spectrum disorders, both to refer patients to appropriate
medical care, if necessary, and to enable dental treatment
of these patients. Treating patients with autism can be both
challenging and rewarding for dental professionals. It is
crucial to introduce the patient to the dental environment
and patient-appropriate care in a slow and gentle manner
that builds trust and cooperation. Caries risk must be part
of the initial assessment, and it is important that both the
parent/caregiver and patient be introduced to a viable home
care regimen that is tailored to the patient with autism.









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