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July JADA addresses dental exams for children with autism

June 26, 2017

By Michelle Manchir

Desensitization protocols, such as repeated visits, could help many children with autism spectrum disorder receive needed dental care, suggests a study featured on the cover the July issue of The Journal of the American Dental Association.

Children with autism are less likely to receive dental care than typically developing peers due in many cases to behavioral limitations, said the study's lead author, Dr. Travis Nelson, a clinical associate professor in the department of pediatric dentistry at the University of Washington. However, researchers found that, given the opportunity to practice dental skills at their own pace, the majority of patients with autism in the study were able to sit for an exam with a dental mirror, Dr. Nelson said.

More than 75 percent of the children with autism in the study were able to receive an exam in one to two dental visits and nearly 90 percent were able to receive an exam within five visits with desensitization protocols, according to the study.

"The protocols we used are very simple and could be implemented elsewhere to help children with autism access needed dental services," Dr. Nelson said.

To read the full study online, visit

Other highlights of the July JADA include an article about the association between diabetes, sugar-sweetened beverages and tooth loss in adults; a look at parental perceptions and acceptance of silver diamine fluoride; and research about antimicrobial activity of chemomechanical gingival retraction products.

Every month, JADA articles are published online at in advance of the print publication.