Sensory Adaptations in Dental Environments (SADE)
Director: Sharon Cermak EdD, OTR/L, FAOTA
The Sensory Adaptations in Dental Environments lab, led by Sharon Cermak, studies interventions that alter the sensory characteristics of the dental environment in order to decrease children’s physiological anxiety and negative responses during oral care and contribute to increased child comfort as well as safer, more efficient, and less costly dental treatment. If successful, this intervention has the potential to revolutionize clinic-based dental care for the growing population of children with autism spectrum disorder, as well as for typically developing children with dental anxiety and/or sensory over-responsivity.
Sensory Adapted Dental Environments to Enhance Oral Care for Children (SADE-2) >
The SADE-2 study is a randomized clinical trial of 184 ethnically diverse children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). We are investigating the efficacy of a sensory adapted dental environment (SADE) compared to a regular dental environment (RDE) to decrease children’s physiological anxiety,…
Period: May 2015 – Apr 2022
Federal Funding $3,783,021
Sensory Adapted Dental Environments to Enhance Oral Care for Children with Autism >
Abstract The goal of this research project is to collect information that will support a later clinical trial on the effectiveness of a specially adapted dental environment for children who have difficulty tolerating oral care in the dental clinic. Within this project, two groups of children will be…
Period: Sep 2011 – Aug 2015
Federal Funding $531,376
Stein Duker, L. I., Floríndez, L. I., Como, D. H., Tran, C. F., Henwood, B. F., Polido, J. C., & Cermak, S. A. (2019). Strategies for success: A qualitative study of caregiver and dentist approaches to improving oral care for children with autism. Pediatric Dentistry, 41(1), 4E-12E. Show abstract
Purpose. Oral health is important to physical and psychological health. Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) experience significant oral care challenges, but little research exists that examines efficacious interventions to improve care. The purpose of this study was to qualitatively explore parental and dentist reports of successful strategies implemented during dental care with children with ASD.
Methods. Focus groups were conducted with parents of children with ASD (N = two groups) and dentists treating children with ASD (N = two groups). Focus group transcripts were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using a thematic analysis approach.
Results. Three key themes were identified from the parent focus groups: (1) what makes a good dentist; (2) flexibility and techniques—strategies used by the dentist; and (3) preparation—strategies for parents and caregivers of children with ASD. Four themes emerged from the dentist groups: (1) parents know best; (2) practice; (3) flexibility; and (4) a network of colleagues. Areas of overlap between the parents and dental providers included the importance of preparation, necessity of flexibility and creativity, and value of collaboration.
Conclusions. Our findings provide insight into techniques perceived by parents and dental providers to facilitate successful dental encounters for children with ASD.
Group Helps Get Kids With Autism Get Through Dental Visits
Research study changes exam room to be more friendly for children on autism spectrum
KCBS2-TV/KCAL9-TV | June 8, 2018
Can researchers enhance the dental experience for children with autism?
Record-setting grant will help USC division study sensory stimuli that lessen a child’s anxiety during oral care
Mike McNulty, in USC News | June 15, 2015
Children with autism dread the dentist, but USC research may help
Sharon Cermak wants to make the experience more kid-friendly
Rob Russow, in USC News | April 25, 2014
Grant Awarded to Study Dental Environments
A two-year grant of $531,376 has been awarded to the USC Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.
Vivian Tang, in USC News | October 12, 2011