American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry
Appropriate Timing of Dental Services and Preventive
Essential to the Optimal Oral Health of Children
Lack of appropriate information on preventive dentistry and dental services
impedes the goal of optimal oral health standards for all US children.
In a study published in the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistrys
(AAPD) journal, Pediatric Dentistry, researchers evaluated the factors
associated with age-appropriate dental care and preventive dentistry among
preschool-aged children in Delaware.
A child health questionnaire was sent to a random sample of Delaware caregivers
with preschool-aged children. Survey questions were selected and modified
from the National Center for Health Statistics questionnaires to ensure
a comprehensive report of demographic, financial, access/barriers to care,
and health status, beliefs, attitudes, and behavior information.
This study reported a 68% response rate. According to analyzed research,
the study indicated 4% of children 12 months or younger had never been
to a dentist, whereas 3% of children between 12 and 24 months and 20%
of children 24 months or older had been to the dentist. For all of the
children in this study, only 11% had been to the dentist. Of the caregivers
who reported that their child had been to the dentist, 14% indicated the
childs first visit occurred on or before the childs first
year and less than half (49%) reported before the second year. Data showed
that the maternal age/education was not a significant association with
having a dental visit. This study also did not show health coverage as
being a factor with regular dental visits.
One of the most significant sources of information on oral health for
caregivers is a childs medical health provider. No difference in
dental visits was found from information provided by a physician or a
nurse. However, the study was unable to qualify what information was provided
on oral health. The AAPD recommends that a child have an oral health examination
within six months of the first tooths eruption, or by one year of
age. Providing caregivers with oral hygiene information, as well as appropriate
fluoride supplementation, is critical for a childs dentition. The
study also indicated that a more unified approach to dental health assessments
by various organizations should decrease confusion about oral hygiene
and preventive dentistry for caregivers and health providers alike.
Pediatric Dentistry is the bimonthly didactic publication of the American
Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Pediatric dentists are primary care providers
who also provide comprehensive treatment for infants, children, adolescents,
and patients with special health care needs. www.aapd.org.