Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Pediatric Dentistry

First Advisor

Dr. Arthur P. Mourino

Second Advisor

Dr. Frank F. Farrington


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to assess the utilization of dental services for children with autism spectrum disorders and identify barriers these children face when accessing dental services in the state of Virginia. Methods: A survey was mailed to families in the state of Virginia that care for at least one child with the neuro-developmental disorder on the autism spectrum scale. The mailing list was obtained from "The Autism Program of Virginia." This list contains the names of families/guardians of children with autism spectrum disorders. These individuals live throughout the State of Virginia. This project analyzed survey questions directly related to dental care access issues and other socioeconomic factors (age, race, family, income, sex and parental education). Results: The response rate of the survey was 29%. Autism was the most common diagnosis of the autism spectrum disorders among respondent's children (60%). No significant difference was found however, between access to dental services and the child's diagnosis. The majority of the children were white males between the ages of 3-11 years old. A history of difficult behavior in the dental office was a significant factor as to the amount of time that had past since the child's last dental visit, the child's ability to get care when needed and whether the child had a periodic dental provider. Income was significantly related to being able to get care when needed and having a periodic dental provider. No factors were significant as to whether a child was currently scheduled. Travel times were highly correlated with convenience with people having to travel more than one hour stating that receiving treatment was not convenient at all.Conclusion: Children with difficult behavior were statistically less likely to have a dentist for routine care, have longer intervals between treatment appointments and be less likely to receive care when needed. Pediatric dentists are treating the majority of these children. Twenty four percent of the children did not have a dentist for periodic oral health care. The most frequent reason for not being scheduled for a dental appointment was an inability to find a dentist with special skill or willingness to work with people having disabilities.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2008