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Children on Autism Spectrum Have Poor Oral Health
July 2, 2014

By Nancy Volkers
InteliHealth News Service

INTELIHEALTH - Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may have poorer oral health than other children, says a study from Egypt.

Researchers compared 100 children with ASD and 100 children without the condition. Children with ASD did not have more tooth decay than other children. But they did have more plaque on their teeth and poorer gum health. Children with ASD also were more likely to grind their teeth.

Children with ASD were less likely to cooperate during the dental exam. About 48% of children with ASD were uncooperative, compared with 13% of other children.

The researchers also asked about access to dental care. Caregivers of children with ASD were more likely to report problems getting care.

The National Center for Dental and Craniofacial Research says that most people with mild or moderate forms of autism can be treated successfully by general dentists. People with more severe forms of autism may need specialized care.

ASD is an umbrella term for a group of conditions. They include autistic disorder, Asperger syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS). All of these conditions can present behavioral and social challenges. Several of them used to be diagnosed separately.

ASD is about 5 times more common in boys than in girls. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 1 of every 68 children has been diagnosed with ASD.

The study appears in the July issue of the International Journal of Paediatric Dentistry.

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