Unmet dental needs and barriers to dental care among children with autism spectrum disorders

J Autism Dev Disord. 2012 Jul;42(7):1294-303. doi: 10.1007/s10803-011-1362-2.


Mail-in pilot-tested questionnaires were sent to a stratified random sample of 1,500 families from the North Carolina Autism Registry. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was used to determine the significance of unmet dental needs and other predictors. Of 568 surveys returned (Response Rate = 38%), 555 were complete and usable. Sixty-five (12%) children had unmet dental needs. Of 516 children (93%) who had been to a dentist, 11% still reported unmet needs. The main barriers were child's behavior, cost, and lack of insurance. The significant predictor variables of unmet needs were child's behavior (p = 0.01), child's dental health (p < 0.001), and caregiver's last dental visit greater than 6 months (p = 0.002). Type of ASD did not have an effect on having unmet dental needs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / epidemiology
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / epidemiology*
  • DMF Index
  • Dental Care for Children / statistics & numerical data*
  • Dental Health Surveys
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Services Needs and Demand / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Insurance, Dental / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Medicaid / statistics & numerical data
  • North Carolina
  • Oral Hygiene Index
  • Pilot Projects
  • Registries
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States