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Treating Patients with Autism in a Dental Setting

Course Number: 402

Adaptive & Power Brushes

Fine motor skills like brushing and flossing can be difficult for many individuals with ASD. If possible, have the patient brush in the operatory so the dental professional can visually assess what adjustments should be made. Creating an assistive brush can be as easy as putting a tennis ball on the brush handle to make a custom grip (Figures 20 & 21).


Figure 20. Assistive toothbrushes.


Figure 21. Assistive toothbrushes.

Some individuals may find the sensation of the bristles very uncomfortable. In several patients the author has found the Banana brush to be a useful transition tool (Figure 22). The toothbrush is made of silicone and marketed to very young children as a “safe toothbrush.” There are short bristles made of silicone on the brush that help desensitize the individual and help transition to a regular brush. The handles are also helpful with dexterity challenges.

banana brush

Figure 22. Banana brush.

Source: Baby Banana Brushes

If the patient does not allow the parent/caregiver to brush very long, a toothbrush that cleans all surfaces at once is helpful (Figure 23).


Figure 23. Multi-surface brush.

Power brushes remove more plaque than manual brushes. The author always recommends that parents/caregivers try the least expensive version of power toothbrushes before investing in something more expensive. Many individuals will enjoy the vibration of the brush, which will lead to better brushing for longer periods of time, but some individuals may find the noise and the vibration too overwhelming. Using a power brush will help desensitize the patient to sensations felt during the dental appointment.

Power toothbrushes

Figure 24. Power toothbrushes.

Source: Oral-B®, Colgate-Palmolive®

Oral-B Genius brush

Figure 25. Power toothbrush.

Source: Oral-B®