Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Marjorie Charlop

Reader 2

Tessa Solomon-Lane

Rights Information

2020 Tiffany S Kim


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a common disorder in which affected individuals display, to varying degrees, reduced ability to communicate, disinterest in social interaction, and resistance to change. Individuals with ASD express behaviors that put them at higher risk for dental caries, and peer-reviewed literature strongly shows the positive correlation between ASD and incidence of periodontal disease. Although this demographic has a higher index of oral disease, this population faces many barriers to accessing dental treatment. There is a profound lack of dental professionals who have the confidence or skills to treat patients with ASD, and symptoms of ASD, such as sensory sensitivity and behavioral difficulties, cause dental treatment to be an immense source of distress. This paper explores different techniques that facilitate successful oral treatments for patients with ASD, including establishment of routine, reduction of overstimulation, constant positive reinforcement, and deep touch pressure. Furthermore, the effectiveness of sedation during treatment and systematic desensitization before treatment are evaluated. In the realm of dentistry, the ASD community is underfunded and underserved. More resources, research, and attention need to be focused on this problem to assuage this need.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.