Student Theses, Dissertations and Capstones

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Dentistry

Copyright Statement

All rights reserved. This publication is intended for use solely by faculty, students, and staff of Nova Southeastern University. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, now known or later developed, including but not limited to photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author or the publisher.


College of Dental Medicine

First Advisor

Romer Ocanto

Publication Date / Copyright Date



Nova Southeastern University


Background. ASD is a neurodevelopmental disability, responsible for social, communicative and behavioral deficits. The prevalence of children diagnosed with ASD in the United States has more than doubled in the past two decades, from 1 in 150 to 1 in 68. Children diagnosed with ASD have a very high occurrence of certain comorbidities, such as developmental delay, intellectual disability and speech delay. Unmet dental needs remain high among children with special health care needs (SHCN), with 78% reporting the need for dental care within the last 12 months. Recent studies have focused on barriers to care for these patients; the child’s behavior has been identified as a major barrier to dental care. Objective. This study was conducted to examine and provide an overview of characteristics of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) undergoing dental care, specifically, an exploration of associations between patient demographic and health characteristics on the outcome of completing a cleaning. Methods. A retrospective chart review explored ASD patient demographics (including, but not limited to, ASD diagnosis, a variety of active therapies, comorbidities listed above, behavior and level of communication) and related them to successful dental treatments. Comparisons were made using t-test, bivariate and multivariate analyses. Results. Patients reporting non-verbal communication took more visits to complete the tasks (3.26 versus 2.64, P=0.028). Hispanic ethnicity [OR 0.073; (95% CI 0.017, 0.315); P=0.000] and parental lack of knowledge related to patient cooperation [OR 0.078; (95% CI 0.018, 0.344); P=0.001] were significantly associated with lower odds of completing the tasks. Conclusion. Educating dentists about key patient characteristics, including verbal/non-verbal communicative abilities, ongoing patient therapies, and cultural upbringings can potentially improve access to oral health care for children with ASD.




Autism spectrum disorder, Dental home, Pediatric oral health, Special health care needs, Task strip



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Dentistry Commons