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News / March 14, 2018

Lack of guidance delays child dental visits

by Guy Hiscott

A lack of guidance may be delaying a child’s first trip to the dentist.

A poll in the US showed that less than half of parents received guidance about starting dental visits from a doctor or dentist – and this figure was worse among low-income parents.

One in six parents who did not receive advice from a health care provider believed children should delay dentist visits until age four or older – years later than what experts recommend.

Commenting on the results, Kirsten FizGerald of the Irish Division of the European Academy of Paediatric Dentistry (EAPD) says: ‘The best time for children to begin visiting the dentist is during the first year of life. First tooth, first visit, zero cavities – that’s our motto!

‘As dentists we know this, but evidence from practitioners on the ground is that most Irish families are not aware of the benefits of early professional oral health care. The Irish Division of the EAPD has worked hard in recent years to raise this important issue at a national level.

‘Families need guidance from healthcare professionals and support from public policy to be able to avail of the best oral health care for their children.’

More than half of parents (60%) reported their child has had a dental visit with most parents (79%) believing the dentist visit was worthwhile.

‘Providers who care for at-risk populations should dedicate time to focus on the importance of dental visits. Parents should also ask their child’s doctor or their own dentist about when to start dentist visits and how to keep their child’s teeth healthy,’ says Mott poll co-director Sarah Clark.

Find out more from Michigan Medicine.

Find out more about Irish Dentistry‘s focus on vulnerable patients throughout 2018.