Why Most Young Children Don’t See The Dentist

Where The Problem Lies

Without a doctor or dentist’s guidance, some parents don’t follow national recommendations for early dental care for their children, a new national poll discovers. According to a recent C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, most parents believed children should delay dentist visits until age 4 or older – years later than what experts recommend. This clearly doesn’t connect with the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Dental Association recommendation of starting dental visits around age one when baby teeth emerge.

The national poll is based on responses from 790 parents with at least one child aged 0-5. More than half of parents did not receive guidance from their child’s doctor or a dentist about when to start dentist visits. The reasons cited by some parents whose child has not had a dental visit are that the child is not old enough, the child’s teeth are healthy, and the child would be scared of the dentist.

Another factor that may delay dental care is that healthcare recommendations for early childhood are often focused on well-child visits with medical providers, and parents seemed to strictly follow through. They are well guided as to first visits after birth, immunization schedules, vitamins and milk formula instructions, and other such preventive care measures. Parents get much less guidance on when to start taking their child to the dentist. Less than half say, though, they have received professional advice. This lack of guidance may mean many parents delay the start of dental visits past the recommended age.

It was also discovered in the poll that parents with higher income and education, and those with private dental insurance, were more likely to report that a doctor or dentist provided guidance on when to start dental visits. Families who are low-income, less educated, and on Medicaid are less likely to receive such.

Parents from all income levels should be able to ask and receive recommendations from both their doctors and dentists and other health providers about both medical and dental care for their young. Providers, on the other hand, especially those who care for at-risk populations should dedicate time to focus on the importance of dental visits. When parents get clear guidance, they may be able to understand the importance of their child’s timely first visit to the dental specialist.

Welcoming Infants and Toddlers at Tetrick Family Dentistry

By the time your baby is one year old, visit Dr. Tetrick for your child’s first visit. We in Bellingham understand the wisdom of timely visits and also impart that well to our community members.