Children Likelier to See Dentist If Parents Have Regular Visits

Parents who visit the dentist regularly are more likely to take their children to the dentist, too.

A new study shows that 77 percent of children and 64 percent of parents had seen a dentist in the previous year. About 86 percent of children whose parents had a dental visit during the preceding year had a dental exam, compared to about 63 percent of the children whose parents had not seen a dentist.

The data is from a recent National Health Interview Study of 6,107 children age 2 to 17 and their parents. The findings show that programs that promote children's oral health also should target their parents, said the study's author, Inyang Isong, M.D., a pediatrician and research fellow at the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Child and Adolescent Health Policy.

About 76 percent of parents in the study were employed and had health insurance. However, financial barriers still kept some of those families from seeing a dentist. Some parents delayed dental care due to cost, and 27 percent of their children also had care deferred.

Tooth decay is one of the most common chronic diseases in the United States, especially among minority children and those from lower-income families, thus "strategies to promote oral health should focus on the whole family," said Dr. Isong.

What's more, many people are unaware of the important role dental care plays in children's overall health, according to the ADA in a National Children's Dental Health Month news release.

The ADA recommends that parents take action early to ensure the health of their children's teeth because attitudes and habits established at an early age are critical in maintaining good oral health throughout life.

© 2017 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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What To Expect During a DENTAL VISIT

On your first visit, your dentist will take a full health history. On follow-up visits, if your health status has changed, make sure to tell your dentist. Here’s what you can expect during most trips to the dentist.

  • A Thorough Cleaning – a dental hygienist or dentist will scrape along and below the gum line to remove built-up plaque and tartar that can cause gum disease, cavities, bad breath and other problems. Then he or she will polish and floss your teeth.

  • A Full Dental Examination – your dentist will perform a thorough examination of your teeth, gums and mouth, looking for signs of disease or other problems.

  • X-Rays – X-rays can diagnose problems otherwise unnoticed, such as damage to jawbones, impacted teeth, abscesses, cysts or tumors, and decay between the teeth.