Oral health status of children and young adults with autism spectrum disorders: systematic review and meta-analysis

Int J Paediatr Dent. 2017 Sep;27(5):388-398. doi: 10.1111/ipd.12274. Epub 2016 Oct 31.


Background: Individuals with special needs are often affected by oral disorders such as dental caries and periodontal disease. Current data regarding prevalence of these conditions in individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are controversial.

Aim: To conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis to verify the prevalence of dental caries and periodontal disease in individuals with ASD, especially children and young adults.

Design: Searches were conducted through MEDLINE/PubMed, Web of Science, and Scopus databases in December 2015. Studies were included if fulfilled the following eligibility criteria: to evaluate the oral health status of individuals with ASD; to be an observational study; and to assess the prevalence of dental caries and/or periodontal disease. Meta-analyses were conducted considering prevalence of dental caries and periodontal disease in individuals as outcome.

Results: Search strategy identified 928 potentially relevant articles and seven of them were included in this review. All included studies reported dental caries prevalence, and the pooled prevalence was 60.6% (95% CI: 44.0-75.1). Moreover, only three studies showed prevalence of periodontal disease, resulting in pooled prevalence of 69.4% (95% CI: 47.6-85.0).

Conclusion: Prevalence of dental caries and periodontal disease in children and young adults with ASD can be considered as high, pointing to the need for oral health policies focused on these individuals.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / complications*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Databases, Factual
  • Dental Caries / complications*
  • Dental Caries / epidemiology*
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic
  • Oral Health
  • Periodontal Diseases / complications*
  • Periodontal Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Young Adult