Autism Spectrum Disorders and Dental Care

Autism Spectrum Disorder covers a wide range of disorders, but the people who have them still need dental care. Various tendencies associated with autism spectrum disorder may complicate dental visits. Ideally, we would like to individualize each person’s visits with input from the patient and caregiver so that the dental visit can go as smoothly as possible.


If you have or you are a caregiver for someone with autism spectrum disorder, here are a few discussion points you may be asked or may want to ask.


1.What is the developmental status of the patient?

2.What behavioral issues and other diagnoses does this patient have that may affect a dental visit?

3.What methods have proven effective in the past for making similar experiences easier?

4.What previous experiences have occurred in a dental office or at home during oral care? Are there any barriers to the current oral care regimen? What helps or facilitates the oral care regimen?

5.What are your concerns and goals for the dental visit?

6.Will preparation with picture social stories or other strategies, done at home before the appointment, be helpful?

7.What is the best time for an appointment? (What time of day are the behavioral issues least problematic? Etc. Realize that what is best for you might not be the best time for the patient.)

8.How does the patient deal with waiting? How will the patient deal with the waiting room? Are there alternatives, such as waiting in the car until the office is ready to seat the patient in a treatment room?

9.What factors could worsen or help behavioral problems in the dental office? For example, would explaining each step of the process in advance be helpful?

10.Specific preferences of the patient and/or caregiver. For example, how much involvement the caregiver should have during the appointment..


Involving those who know the patient individual needs best can make a huge difference in the outcome of a dental visit. For some people and procedures, a general dentist’s office might be sufficient, but please realize that for other people or procedures additional procedures such as sedation, general anesthesia, or restraints might be necessary. Most general dentists may not provide these in their office and may need to refer you to a specialist or dentist who does.  


*This advice is not intended to replace the clinical judgement of your healthcare providers.


Dr. Jennifer Robb is a general dentist who sees patients of all ages in her practice located at 1320 Cooper Foster Park Rd. Lorain, OH 44053. She is taking new patients. Call 440-960-1940 to inquire.