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Oral Health for Loved Ones with Autism

April 19, 2024

Filed under: Uncategorized — ddfamilyteam @ 2:03 pm
person helping child with autism brush their teeth

Did you know that the World Health Organization says about 1 in every 160 children worldwide has autism spectrum disorder (ASD)? Additionally, in the U.S., approximately 2% of adults have ASD. April 2nd is World Autism Awareness Day, a great opportunity to learn more about supporting those with these conditions. For instance, research shows that people with ASD are often more prone to dental problems. Keep reading to understand why this occurs and discover ways to promote better dental health for your family!

Why Are Autistic People More Likely to Have Dental Dilemmas?

In a study conducted in 2017, it was found that 85.2% of autistic children aged seven to 14 had cavities in their permanent teeth. This number is significantly higher than the 41.7% rate among children in the general population. Several factors may contribute to the increased risk of oral health issues for those with ASD, such as:

  • Medication: Nearly 45% of children and adolescents with autism rely on medications to alleviate symptoms. However, these drugs often come with side effects, such as toothaches, changes in salivation, dry mouth, overgrown gums, and even altered taste.
  • Motor disturbances: Both autism spectrum disorder and certain prescribed medications can lead to movement difficulties, potentially disrupting regular oral hygiene routines, such as brushing twice and flossing at least once daily.
  • Tooth grinding: Lots of children with autism grind their teeth, a habit known as bruxism. This can wear down their teeth quickly, making them more prone to damage or breakage. It can also cause their teeth to become misaligned, making them trickier to clean.
  • Anxiety: Patients with autism often experience a heightened fear of dental visits due to sensory overload. This fear may lead them to skip appointments, which can result in untreated dental issues.

How Can I Help?

If you’re caring for a loved one with ASD who has special dental needs, there are various ways you can assist them in maintaining oral hygiene. You might want to consider:

  • Oral motor tools: If they are sensitive to sensations, they might resist brushing their teeth. Instead, you can try to help them gently wipe their mouth with a dry cloth. You could also opt for a non-spicy toothpaste that won’t overwhelm their taste buds.
  • Timers: For thosewho struggle to focus, providing them with a timer can help them stay on track while brushing their teeth and gums.
  • Noise-canceling headphones: The echoes in a bathroom can be overwhelming due to various sounds. To help your loved one feel less anxious, consider giving them noise-cancelling headphones. This can help them feel less anxious by blocking out unwanted noise.

If you’re seeking additional tips to support your loved one’s oral health, consider reaching out to their dentist. With experience assisting individuals from diverse backgrounds, the dentist may have valuable insights and suggestions to offer.

About the Practice

DD Family Dentistry of Carrollton, located in the DFW area, is committed to providing compassionate and effective dental care to patients throughout Texas. Under the leadership of Dr. Durga Devarakonda, a highly skilled dentist, the practice is dedicated to delivering exceptional care to the Carrollton community. They offer a comprehensive range of services, from routine checkups to complex procedures. They prioritize treating every patient with kindness and understanding, taking the time to understand each individual’s needs. If your loved one with autism needs a checkup, you can contact DD Family Dentistry of Carrollton at (972) 245-3395 or visit their website

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