Understanding the autistic dental patient

Gen Dent. Mar-Apr 2008;56(2):167-71.


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is one of many pervasive developmental disorders (PDD); others include Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder (also known as Heller's syndrome), pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and the higher functioning Asperger's syndrome. Because ASD is the most common of the developmental disabilities, it is not unusual for dentists to have ASD patients among their patient population. As the name indicates, ASD varies widely in its clinical manifestations; however, dentists are likely to encounter difficulties with communication and socialization. Although communication may be difficult, it is not impossible. A thorough understanding of this complex neurological disorder and displaying patience are vital for the dentist. This article seeks to familiarize readers with ASD characteristics and co-morbid conditions that may affect dental treatment and provide some management strategies for this unique population.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autistic Disorder* / physiopathology
  • Autistic Disorder* / psychology
  • Autistic Disorder* / therapy
  • Dental Care for Chronically Ill
  • Dental Care for Disabled*
  • Dentist-Patient Relations*
  • Humans