Physician Advice Ups Dental Visits for Young Children

But fewer than half of primary care doctors discuss dental visits with children

MONDAY, July 26 (HealthDay News) -- Young children who receive a recommendation for dental care from their physician are more likely to receive dental care than children with physicians who do not address the issue, according to research published online July 26 in Pediatrics.

Heather A. Beil, and R. Gary Rozier, D.D.S., of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, conducted a cross-sectional study of 5,268 children from the 2004 Medical Expenditures Panel Survey to estimate the probability of a child receiving a physician recommendation for a dental exam, as well as the effect of a recommendation on the odds of a child having a dental exam. Statistical analysis was conducted separately for children ages 2 to 5 and 6 to 11.

The investigators found that 47 percent of the younger children were advised to see a dentist, and 37 percent of the older group received this recommendation. After receiving the recommendation, younger children had significantly increased odds of seeing a dentist (odds ratio, 2.89) compared to those children not advised to see a dentist. This advice had no significant effect on the odds of older children seeing a dentist. The researchers concluded that primary care providers can play an important role in young children receiving dental care.

"Health providers have the potential to play an important role in establishing a dental home among young children and improving oral health by recommending that they visit the dentist. Future research should examine potential interventions to increase dental recommendations by primary health care providers and determine their dental outcomes," the authors write.

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