Plymouth youth autism dental project
 

Why we are doing this research?


Children’s oral health is important.
Children who have toothache or who need treatment may have pain, infection and difficulty with eating, sleeping, socialising and going to school.
Tooth decay is almost entirely preventable, but it still remains a serious problem in the UK. 
Studies show that autistic children and young people have a high risk of developing tooth decay and gum disease. 
This may be due to a number of reasons such as diet, the effect of some medications, and difficulties with brushing their teeth. 
It may also be due to a lack of access to the appropriate dental services to meet their needs.
There have been studies about oral health care for autistic children and young people but few of them have spoken to the children or young people themselves.

In this study we will speak to autistic children and young people, their parents/carers and dental professionals.
By speaking to all three groups we will find out what influences the oral health care of autistic children and young people so we can better meet their needs.

<p>Plymouth youth autism dental project - hand drawn poster<br></p>

Image credit: Callista, 4 Me & My Friends Youth Club

Who do we want to talk to?

We would like to talk to autistic children and young people who:

  • Are aged 5-19 years
  • Have a diagnosis of autism or are on the autism pathway
  • Live in or are at school/college or work in Plymouth
  • Can speak English

We would like to talk to the parents and carers of autistic children and young people who:

  • Have or care for a child who is aged 5-19 years and has a diagnosis of autism or is on the autism pathway
  • Who lives in Plymouth or whose child goes to school/college or works in Plymouth
  • Can speak English

We would like to talk to dentists, dental hygienists, dental nurses, dental surgery receptionists and other dental staff who:

  • Care for autistic children and young people in their role as a dental professional
  • Work as a dental professional in the South West.

Read our participant information sheet (PDF) for dental professionals
Access our consent form for dental professionals

What does participation involve?

<p>Little boy putting toothpaste on a toothbrush</p>

Children and young people
Children and young people will be invited to meet with the researcher (Jo Erwin) at home or on-line at a time convenient for them and their parents/carers.
This will be an opportunity for them to find out more about research and this project. It will also give the child/young person a chance to meet Jo and to ask any questions they have. It will allow Jo to find out more about the child/young person’s communication and other preferences so she can tailor the study interview to the individual child/young person.
Should they decide to take part the child/young person will be invited to meet again for the study interview either at home or on-line to share their views and experience of looking after their teeth and going to dentist.
The interview will take 20-60 minutes (depending on the child/young person).

<p>Dentist with patient</p>

Parents/carers
Parents/carers will be invited to meet with the researcher (Jo Erwin) at home, on-line, by phone or at location in Plymouth at a time that is convenient for them (including evenings and weekends). They will be invited to share their views and experience of looking after their child’s teeth and accessing dental care for their child.
Interviews will take 40-60 minutes.
Dental professionals
Dental professionals will be invited to meet with the researcher (Jo Erwin) on-line or by phone at a time convenient to them (including evenings and weekends). They will be invited to share their views and experience of providing oral health care support and dental care to autistic children and young people.
Interviews will take 30-45 minutes.
Read our participant information sheet (PDF) for dental professionals
Access our consent form for dental professionals

About the research

Who is doing the research?

The research is being led by a team of dental, public health and child health professionals and academics from the University of Plymouth, the Peninsula Dental Social Enterprise and the Royal National ENT and Eastman Dental Hospital. They are working together with an advisory group of autistic children, young people and their families and other members of the wider autistic community in Plymouth.

What we are researching?

In this project we are looking at the factors that influence autistic children and young people’s oral health care and their ability to access dental care.

What will we do with the results?

The research will inform the development of dental care services for autistic children and young people in Plymouth, initially through the Peninsula Dental Social Enterprise. We will share the findings with national dental organisations to inform the development of inclusive dental services elsewhere, and further improve the provision of dental care for autistic children and young people in the southwest and beyond.

What does the study involve?

We will be interviewing 20-25 autistic children and young people and 20-25 parents/carers of autistic children/young people. In these interviews we will explore their views on and experiences of oral health and dental care. We will also be speaking to 20-25 dental health professionals to discuss and explore with them the factors that influence the provision of oral health support and dental care to autistic children and young people. We will explore our emerging ideas with autistic children and young people at creative workshops with local special schools and youth clubs.

Who are we funded by?

The project is funded by a grant from the Peninsula Dental Social Enterprise.

Project Advisory Group

The research is guided by the project advisory group which has a wide range of expertise and experience. Members of the group include autistic children and young people and their parents/guardians. The artist Louise (Red) Peters (www.red-louise.art) is supporting the project in the use of creative approaches to our research.

How to get involved

If you are interested in getting involved please contact the lead researcher Jo Erwin at jo.erwin@plymouth.ac.uk

The team

University of Plymouth researchers

 
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