Majority of parents schedule child's first dental visit two years too late

BOSTON, March 19, 2002 A survey of U.S. expectant mothers, mothers and primary caregivers released today reveals that nearly 70 percent of children begin receiving dental care two years later than the age recommended by pediatric dental experts.

On average, children first visit a dentist at age three. Dental experts recommend that initial visits occur between the ages of 6 months and 1 year, or when the first tooth appears.

Early visits are crucial in assessing diet and feeding patterns that may contribute to tooth decay, determining if such preventive measures as fluoride treatments are required and teaching parents to better understand and care for their childs teeth and gums, said John S. Rutkauskas, D.D.S., M.B.A., executive director of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) Foundation.

Gallup & Robinson conducted the Oral-B/AAPD Foundation Checkup on Childrens Oral Care study in conjunction with the AAPD Foundations Good Health Starts Here campaign. The two organizations conducted a similar study in 1996.

A comparison with the findings of the earlier study reveals that todays parents are more informed and involved in their childrens oral care routine. For example, in 1996, only one-third of parents were aware that their childs oral care routine should begin early and that they should regularly clean their childs gums before the child even has teeth. By contrast, in 2002, over half of parents clean their childs gums.

Some improvements have occurred, but differences still exist between parental behavior and attitudes towards their children's oral care and AAPD recommendations:

Childrens Oral Care Issues AAPD Recommendations Study Findings Parental Supervision of Child Brushing Although parents can begin teaching their children to brush at age three, they should continue to supervise brushing until age 11. Of those children who brush their teeth without supervision, more than half started before

Contact: Nicola Pugliese
Porter Novelli

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