Oral health challenges facing Dubai children with Autism Spectrum Disorder at home and in accessing oral health care
Khamis, Ammar H.
Kowash, Mawlood B.
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Aims: To investigate the challenges faced by Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) children and their families in Dubai from three different perspectives of dental care: oral care at home, oral care at the dentist and access to oral care, and to compare the results to their normally developing peers. Methods: A case-control comparative study of 84 ASD and 53 healthy children attending special needs centres and schools in Dubai including siblings of the autistic children. Data collection was by a survey questionnaire completed by parents or guardians. Results: More parents of ASD children compared to parents of healthy children reported difficulties across almost all oral care variables explored. The majority of ASD children’s parents (83.3%) reported that their children need assistance in brushing their teeth compared with 15.4% of the healthy controls (p-value < 0.001). The ASD children’s uncooperative behavior increased during dental visits and significantly more parents (37%) rated their child’s experience as negative compared with 9.5% among the parents of control children (p-value=0.006). The autistic children had visited a dentist mostly for extractions. Conclusion: This study indicates that autistic children in Dubai experience more challenges and barriers to oral care than their typically developing healthy peers.