Oral health status and behaviours of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: a case-control study

Int J Paediatr Dent. 2014 Jul;24(4):314-23. doi: 10.1111/ipd.12067. Epub 2013 Sep 24.


Background: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a lifelong neuro-developmental disorder characterized by abnormalities in social interactions and communication and by stereotyped, repetitive activities.

Purpose: Assess the oral health status and behaviours of children with ASD.

Methods: The study included 100 children with ASD and 100 healthy children from Alexandria, Egypt. Data were collected using a questionnaire and clinical examination. Questionnaire assessed socio-demographics, medical history, dental history, oral hygiene, dietary habits, and presence of self-injurious behaviours. Clinical examination assessed behaviour during examination, gingival condition, plaque accumulation, caries, and other oral conditions.

Results: Children with ASD had significantly poorer oral hygiene and gingival condition than healthy children (P < 0.001 for both). No significant differences were found in caries prevalence or experience in primary or permanent dentition. More children with ASD behaved 'negatively' or 'definitely negatively' (37% and 11%) than did healthy controls (11% and 2%) (P < 0.0001). Self-injurious behaviour and bruxism were more practised by children with ASD (32% of children with ASD and 2% of healthy children, P < 0.001). More children with ASD had difficulty in accessing dental care (P = 0.002).

Conclusions: The oral condition of children with ASD might increase the risk of developing dental diseases. Their behaviour and life factors may complicate provision of services and limit access to dental care. Therefore, individualized oral health education programmes should be implemented for those children.

MeSH terms

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / psychology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child Behavior*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Egypt
  • Humans
  • Oral Health*