Poll: Parents not receiving dental visit advice for kids

More than half of almost 800 U.S. parents surveyed in a new poll did not receive guidance from their child's physician or a dentist about when their child should first see a dentist.

In addition, almost 17% of the surveyed parents who did not receive advice from a healthcare practitioner stated that these visits should start when their child was 4 years or older, according to the poll results released on February 19 from the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor, MI. Only 35% of these parents stated that dental visits should start at age 1 or younger.

More than 40% of parents who had not taken their child for a dental visit cited that the child was not old enough for a visit. Other reasons included that their child had healthy teeth (25%) and their child was scared of the dentist (15%).

Parents with higher income and education, as well as those with private dental insurance, were more likely to report that a doctor or dentist provided guidance on when to start dental visits for their child, noted Sara Clark, the co-director of the poll.

"Our poll suggests that families who are low-income, less educated, and on Medicaid are less likely to receive professional guidance on dental care," Clark stated in a press release. "This is particularly problematic because low-income children have higher rates of early childhood tooth decay and would benefit from early dental care."

The poll was based on responses from 790 parents with at least one child who was a newborn to 5 years old.

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