Purpose: This pilot study used data from a survey to examine the knowledge, attitudes, and practices about oral care of Latinx parents/caregivers of children with or without autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to identify gaps to focus future intervention.
Methods: Sixty English-speaking Latinx parents/caregivers who had a child between 4 and 14 years with or without ASD (n=31 ASD, n=29 typically developing [TD]) completed a questionnaire on oral health knowledge, practices, access to care, and demographics. Caregiver responses were compared, and gaps in knowledge and practices were identified.
Results: There were no significant differences in parent age, child age, income, insured status, or overall knowledge scores, only a significant difference in education (p=0.02), with the ASD group reporting less. Scores for knowledge, attitudes, access and practice were all nonsignificantly positively correlated, as was attitudes with access and practice. However, knowledge and attitudes were significantly negatively correlated. Additional significant findings were parents who had lower income and education, had lower oral knowledge scores, decreased frequency of dental visits, increased feelings of being discriminated against, children with increased fear of the dentist, and decreased ease of finding a dentist.
Conclusion: Factors such as income, education, ethnicity, and having a child with ASD can influence what Latinx parents and caregivers know about oral health and how their children experience receiving dental care. Latinx parents/caregivers of children with and without ASD report barriers to dental care, including difficulty attending visits or feeling stigmatized by their dental provider due to their ethnicity. Fear of the dentist is significantly correlated with ASD diagnosis and lower social demographics of the parent, and may contribute to a reduction in preventative oral care visits as well. Health care providers should consider these perspectives when providing care to this population to mitigate further oral health inequities.