Oral care and sensory sensitivities in children with autism spectrum disorders

Spec Care Dentist. 2011 May-Jun;31(3):102-10. doi: 10.1111/j.1754-4505.2011.00187.x.


Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are at high risk for oral disease. The aim of this study was to examine the contribution of sensory processing problems to challenges in receiving oral care for children with ASD. A questionnaire was sent to the parents of 206 children with disabilities to test the hypotheses that children with ASD, relative to children with other disabilities, experience greater difficulty with home-based and professional oral care, and that these difficulties may relate in part to sensory processing problems. The results partially supported these hypotheses. Compared to children with other disabilities, those with ASD had greater behavioral difficulties and sensory sensitivities that parents believed interfered with their child's oral care. Among children with ASD, sensory sensitivities were associated with oral care difficulties in the home and dental office, and with behavioral difficulties in the dental office. Utilizing strategies to modify the sensory environment may help facilitate oral care in children with ASD.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attitude to Health
  • Child
  • Child Behavior
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / psychology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Dental Care for Children*
  • Dentist-Patient Relations
  • Developmental Disabilities / psychology
  • Environment
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Language Development Disorders / psychology
  • Oral Hygiene
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Parents / psychology
  • Sensation Disorders / psychology*
  • Sensory Thresholds / physiology*
  • Speech Disorders / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Taste Disorders / psychology
  • Toothbrushing / instrumentation
  • Toothpastes / adverse effects
  • Touch / physiology


  • Toothpastes