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This great video summarises the research project. Nicole and Sharon were featured in this Plymouth University news piece: Research hopes to make dental visits less stressful for children with autism.

APEx-D: Autism Parent Experiences of Dentistry

APEx-D: Autism Parent Experiences of Dentistry

PenCRU and Professor David Moles, Director of Postgraduate Education and Research, Peninsula Dental School supported Nicole Thomas, a parent of a child with autism and a dental hygienist, to secure funding from the Oral & Dental Research Trust. The project (APEx-D) aimed to identify key strategies to improve access to general dental care for children with autism spectrum disorders in the prevention of dental caries (tooth decay). Members of our Family Faculty advised each stage of this research process.

The results of this research into the experiences of parents taking their children with autism for dental check-ups has been published in the International Journal of Paediatric Dentistry (see below). You can also read a plain language summary of the results.

17 parents of children aged 4-13 with autism or a working diagnosis of autism shared their experiences of taking their children for a dental examination at a high street dentist. Their experiences showed the importance of dental team flexibility, parent confidence to advocate for their children's needs, continuity of services (understanding there is more to a visit than just the check-up itself) and clear referral pathways to specialist services. The study provides greater understanding of challenges specific to children with autism such as hyper-empathy, as well as challenges which can affect all families of children with neurodisability, such as perceived medical authority. Overall the results of this study emphasise the value of clear communication; a collaborative partnership that works in the best interest of all.

If you are interested in this topic or have any questions, please get in touch

Thomas N, Blake S, Morris C, Moles DR. (2017) Autism and primary care dentistry: parents’ experiences of taking children with autism or working diagnosis of autism for dental examinations. International Journal of Paediatric Dentistry. doi/10.1111/ipd.12345/full

The notes from meetings held in relation to this project are also available:

Meeting Notes                                            

9 February 2017 APEx-D meeting PDF 310KB
13 July 2015 APEx-D meeting PDF 325KB
1 June 2015 APEx-D meeting  PDF 359KB