Preventive Dental Care Visits

In addition to an annual preventive medical care visit, it is recommended that children see a dentist every beginning as soon as their first tooth erupts, or by age 1 at the latest.1 The majority of children aged 1–17 years (77.2 percent) received at least one preventive dental visit in the past year. Children in urban areas were significantly more likely to have received a preventive dental visit in the past year (78.0 percent) than children in rural areas (73.3 percent of children in large rural areas and 75.3 percent of those in small rural areas).

In all locations, children aged 1–5 years were less likely than older children to have had a preventive dental visit in the past 12 months, with only about half doing so. Among children aged 6–11, rural children were less likely to have had a preventive visit than those in urban areas: 88.5 percent of urban children in this age group had a dental checkup, compared to 84.5 percent of children in large rural areas and 85.5 percent of those in small rural areas. The same pattern was evident for adolescents: 85.8 percent of children aged 12–17 years in urban areas had a dental visit, compared to 82.0 percent of those in large rural areas and 82.3 percent of those in small rural areas.

In all locations, less than half of children without general health insurance had a preventive dental visit, although this percentage did not vary significantly across locations. Children with private insurance were the most likely to have had a dental checkup in all locations, and those in urban areas were slightly more likely to have had a dental visit than those in large rural areas (83.0 and 78.6 percent, respectively).

1 American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Guideline on Periodicity of Examination, Preventive Dental Services, Anticipatory Guidance/Counseling, and Oral Treatment for Infants, Children, and Adolescents. Chicago, IL: AAPD; 2013.

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