Dental education and dentists' attitudes and behavior concerning patients with autism.J Dent Educ. 2010 Dec; 74(12):1294-307.JD
The number of patients diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in the United States has increased significantly. The objectives of this study were to explore general and pediatric dentists' professional attitudes and behavior towards patients with ASD; these dentists' perceptions of their dental education about these issues; and the relationships among their educational experiences, attitudes, and behaviors concerning patients with ASD. Survey data were collected from 162 general dentists in Michigan and 212 pediatric dentists across the United States. The results showed that 89 percent of pediatric dentists and 32 percent of general dentists treat patients with ASD. The respondents disagreed with statements indicating that their predoctoral dental education had prepared them well to treat patients with ASD. However, the better they felt prepared, the more likely they were to provide care for these patients. The frequency with which pediatric dentists said they use appropriate behavior management strategies when treating patients with ASD correlated with the quality of their educational experiences. In conclusion, given the growing number of patients with ASD, it is important to revisit dental education efforts targeted towards preparing future dental care providers for the treatment of patients with ASD and special needs.