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Open AccessArticle

“Mom Let’s Go to the Dentist!” Preliminary Feasibility of a Tailored Dental Intervention for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in the Italian Public Health Service

1
IRCCS Stella Maris Foundation, 56018 Pisa (Calambrone), Italy
2
Department of Informatics, University of Pisa, 56127 Pisa, Italy
3
Unit of Odontostomatology and Oral Surgery, University Hospital of Pisa, 56126 Pisa Italy
4
Institute of Clinical Physiology, National Research Council of Italy, (IFC-CNR), 56124 Pisa, Italy
5
Institute of Informatics and Telematics, National Research Council of Italy, (IIT-CNR), 56125 Pisa, Italy
6
Institute of Neuroscience, National Research Council of Italy of Italy, (IN-CNR), 56125 Pisa, Italy
7
UFSMIA, Zona Livorno, Azienda USL Toscana Nord Ovest, 57124 Livorno, Italy
8
UFSMIA, Zona Pisana, Azienda USL Toscana Nord Ovest, 56121 Pisa, Italy
9
Department of Surgical, Medical and Molecular Pathology and Critical Care Medicine, University of Pisa, 56126 Pisa, Italy
10
Autismo Pisa APS, Autism Parents Association, 56100 Pisa, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(7), 444; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10070444
Received: 29 May 2020 / Revised: 6 July 2020 / Accepted: 10 July 2020 / Published: 12 July 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Autism Research)
Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) show worse oral health than their peers. Their access to health services is, at present, inadequate: few high-quality interventions have been designed and implemented to improve their care procedures so far. The purpose of this study is to describe an experience of dental care supported by Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), for children with ASD in a public health service. In our study, 59 children (mean age 9.9 years; SD = 5.43) participated in the MyDentist project. It integrates classic dental care techniques with new practices for desensitization and fear control, delivered through an enhanced customized ICT-based intervention aiming at familiarizing the child with ASD with the medical setting and procedures. Two questionnaires were filled out by parents to describe the acceptability of the MyDentist experience for their children. Significant results were shown from T0 (before initiating MyDentist) to T1 (after 6 months of the MyDentist experience) regarding improved oral hygiene and cooperation during dental treatments. Families positively assessed the use of ICT support. In conclusion, the project demonstrated acceptability by parents, suggesting that public health dental care and prevention can be successfully implemented without resorting to costly pharmacological interventions (with potential side effects), taking better care of children’s health. View Full-Text
Keywords: autism; dental care; oral health; medical procedures; ICT; wearable sensors autism; dental care; oral health; medical procedures; ICT; wearable sensors
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Narzisi, A.; Bondioli, M.; Pardossi, F.; Billeci, L.; Buzzi, M.C.; Buzzi, M.; Pinzino, M.; Senette, C.; Semucci, V.; Tonacci, A.; Uscidda, F.; Vagelli, B.; Giuca, M.R.; Pelagatti, S. “Mom Let’s Go to the Dentist!” Preliminary Feasibility of a Tailored Dental Intervention for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in the Italian Public Health Service. Brain Sci. 2020, 10, 444.

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