Aims: The aim of the present study was to comparatively analyze oral health status and influential factors in children with autism living in the Western Mediterranean Region of Turkey.
Subjects and methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted in two steps: 1 - questionnaire and 2 - interview. This study was conducted at the Department of Pediatric Dentistry, Faculty of Dentistry, Süleyman Demirel University, Isparta, Turkey, within the period from March to July 2016. Although the questionnaire part involved 126 children with autism and 111 children without autism, 63 children who did not satisfy the inclusion criteria were excluded from the study in the interview part. The forms were sent to previously determined schools, and factors such as age, socioeconomic status, medical history, dental history, eating habits, bad habits, and treatment methods preferred by children's parents were analyzed. Later, interviews with the children were carried out by the same researcher and their oral health conditions were recorded.
Results: Children with autism often have nutritional problems, and early initiation of special education appears effective in preventing these conditions. Although children with autism apply for dental services, the rate for these children receiving dental services is considerably low and most of the services rendered are tooth extractions.
Conclusion: It appears that the oral status of children with autism is affected negatively by many factors. Thus, the parents, the educators, and the dentists should be aware of this fact and encouraged to improve such children's oral hygiene and provide the dental care they need.
Keywords: Autism spectrum disorder; dental care; dental caries; developmental disabilities; feeding behavior; oral health.