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Autism Research and Treatment
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 238764, 9 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/238764
Clinical Study

Experiences of Dental Care and Dental Anxiety in Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder

1Division of Paediatric Dentistry, Department of Dental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, 141 04 Huddinge, Sweden
2Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet and Northern Stockholm Psychiatry, St. Göran Hospital, 112 81 Stockholm, Sweden

Received 18 August 2014; Accepted 7 October 2014; Published 28 October 2014

Academic Editor: Manuel F. Casanova

Copyright © 2014 My Blomqvist et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Dental anxiety is associated with previous distressing dental experiences, such as lack of understanding of the dentist intentions, perceptions of uncontrollability and experiences of pain during dental treatment. People with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are impaired in building flexible predictions and expectations, which is very much needed during a dental visit. The aims of the study were to investigate if people with ASD have more negative dental experiences and a higher level of dental anxiety compared to a matched control group. Forty-seven adults with ASD and of normal intellectual performance, and 69 age- and sex-matched typically developing controls completed questionnaires on previous dental experiences and dental anxiety, the Dental Anxiety Scale, and the Dental Beliefs Survey. The ASD group experienced pain during dental treatments more often than the controls and 22% had repeatedly experienced being forced to dental treatment they were not prepared for, compared to 3% of the controls. A higher level of dental anxiety was reported by the ASD group. Dental treatment and methods for supporting the communication with patients with ASD need to be developed, in order to reduce the negative dental experiences and dental anxiety in people with ASD.