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Treating Patients with Autism in a Dental Setting

Course Number: 402

CE402 Case Study

Keep in mind conditions may overlap. This is a picture of the author’s son at the age of four (Figure 10). Nocturnal grinding, excessive snoring, and mouth breathing were present until his tonsils and adenoids were removed. Also at that time he was put on a gluten free, casein free diet. Removing the gluten and casein resulted in a calmer, more relaxed child, which the author believes helped eliminate the grinding in combination of the removal of the enlarged tonsils. Erosion was also present and by the time his primary teeth exfoliated they were just millimeters in length. The child is now nearly 14 years old and there are not any signs of attrition or erosion. Grinding is absent (Figure 11).

It is absolutely critical dental practitioners work to find the physiological cause of habits like bruxing and grinding. If this child were simply given a bruxing splint (which would have been impossible for him or most individuals with ASD to tolerate), he would have continued to suffer from inadequate sleep, digestive discomfort, and his permanent teeth would have been severely affected leaving a negative impact on him for the rest of his life.


Figure 10.

Age 4: Enlarged tonsils, adenoids, nocturnal grinding, occasional daytime grinding, attrition & erosion present.

Ethan - Age 11

Figure 11.

Age 14: Tonsils & adenoids removed (at 5 years old), diet changes, no grinding, no attrition, no erosion.