PHILADELPHIA — For people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), brushing teeth or visiting the dentist doesn't have to be so overwhelming. That's according to InfiniTeach, developers of the All Smiles Shine app. About 1 in 54 children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and some research shows that those with ASD have a higher risk of dental disease.
"Oral health habits can be hard for many people with ASD, largely due to sensory sensitivities," said Barbie Vartanian, Executive Director of Project Accessible Oral Health (PAOH). "In addition, self-soothing habits, such as teeth grinding or eating sugary foods, can also affect dental health. This is often compounded by communication challenges that make it difficult to relay concerns about teeth, resulting in delays in care. The All Smiles Shine app offers evidence-based solutions to help."
The All Smiles Shine app was created in partnership with PAOH and Delta Dental to help the autism and intellectual and developmental disabilities communities learn about oral health care, practice preventive care at home, and prepare for an upcoming visit to the dentist. App features include:
- At-home videos that support preventive care practices, a flossing and brushing tracker with rewards, and how to prepare for a dental visit.
- Personalized sensory preferences, interests and calming tools to share with the dentist.
- Picture schedules, breathing exercises, emotion identifiers and more.
- Caregiver tips and tricks for daily brushing, flossing and healthy eating.
"Utilizing technology to encourage a better self-care oral health program holds the hope of improving the health of those with autism spectrum disorder," says Dr. Mark S. Wolff, Dean of the Penn Dental Medicine, the administrative home of PAOH.
All Smiles Shine is uniquely designed to help alleviate anxiety and encourage better habits through evidence-based autism interventions and best practices in technology development, as identified by the National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorder. By embedding these evidence-based practices into the app, people with ASD and their families, can customize the experience to their needs.
"This is just the beginning. The All Smiles Shine app will evolve to meet the ongoing needs of the autism community and children with dental anxiety," said Holli Seabury, EdD, executive director of the Delta Dental Foundation. "We hope you'll choose to grow with us."