Age of First Oral Health Examination and Dental Treatment Needs of Medicaid-Enrolled Children

Published 01/10/2022

CareQuest Institute researchers contributed to this article — published in the December 2021 issue of JDR Clinical & Translational Research — that underscores the importance of a child’s first dental visit before their first birthday to prevent early childhood caries, the most prevalent disease of childhood. “Primary care providers have an important role in preventing dental caries in children through oral health examination and referrals to dentists and pediatric dentists,” write the authors. “Grouping initial oral health examinations with well-child visits can serve as a pipeline to oral health care.”  

Key takeaways from the article, which is based on a study of 2.41 million Medicaid-enrolled children, include: 

  • The American Dental Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, and American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry all recommend that children have their first oral health examination by no later than 12 months of age. 
  • On average, most children had their first oral health exam at age 3. 
  • Children who had their first oral health exam at age 3 or 4 had a higher probability of requiring more extensive dental treatment. 
  • More training is needed in dental schools to equip general dentists to treat young children. 

Read the article. (subscription required to access full text)

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