Maintaining dental health is vital as it contributes to the psychological well-being of an individual and the overall systemic health through preventing chronic diseases. Unfortunately, poor oral health has been identified as a common trend in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). There is limited research regarding the barriers that result in rates of increased dental manifestations in patients with ASD compared to neurotypical individuals. This study strived to identify the barriers that contribute to poor oral health in individuals with ASD in order to establish interventions to break those barriers and improve overall dental health in the Autism community. A descriptive, mixed methods study design was utilized that included 10 participants: adults with ASD (n=4), parents of children with ASD (n=4) and dental professionals (n=2). The ASD population were asked to complete a questionnaire that asked about home/office dental care, dental issues and anxiety, sensitivity to external stimuli in a dental office, physical challenges and parafunctional habits. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with dental professionals regarding their experience and training in treating patients on the Autism Spectrum. Three of the four parents reported that their child had high levels of anxiety regarding dental visits. Only one adult with ASD reported flossing on a regular basis, and bruxism was reported by all adults with ASD and all but one parent as an area of concern. Interviews with the two dentists revealed that families of individuals with ASD face financial barriers and reported infrequent visits from adults with ASD. Additionally, both dentists received minimal training in working with special populations. Further research is needed to improve the frequency of dental visits in adults with ASD, which can lead to an overall increased quality of life. Additionally, more training and guidance should be provided to dental offices on working with patients with ASD.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Garcia, Jeanette


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Health Professions and Sciences


Health Sciences

Degree Program

Health Sciences; Pre-Clinical Track



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date