Preventive Dental Care Visits

In addition to an annual preventive medical care visit, it is also recommended that children see a dentist every 6 months beginning by age 1.1 The majority of children aged 1-17 years who had teeth (77.2 percent) received at least one preventive dental visit in the previous year, a lower percentage than received a preventive medical visit.

The receipt of preventive dental care varied by age, health insurance status, and race and ethnicity. Of children aged 6-11 years, 87.6 percent received preventive dental care in the previous year, as did 85.1 percent of those aged 12-17 years, compared to 54.3 percent of children aged 1-5 years.

Children without health insurance were less likely to receive preventive dental care than those with either public or private health insurance. While 82.5 percent of children with private health insurance received preventive dental care, only 73.5 percent of those with public insurance and 47.7 percent of uninsured children received dental care in the previous year.

Non-Hispanic White children were most likely to have received a preventive dental visit (79.7 percent), followed by non-Hispanic Black children (75.9 percent). Hispanic children and non-Hispanic children of other races were least likely to have received preventive dental care (73.9 and 73.5 percent, respectively).

1 Casamassimo P. Bright Futures in Practice: Oral Health. Arlington, VA: National Center for Education in Maternal and Child Health, 1996.