Referral to Dentist for Young Children: Study Finds Early Visits Result in Fewer Cavities

Groningen – Children who are referred to the dentist or dental hygienist from the eruption of the first tooth (on average around 6 months) have fewer initial cavities at the age of 5 than children who are not referred (and who often receive their first oral care (much) later ). This has emerged from research by UMCG, TNO and Erasmus University. In the so-called GigaGaaf! study, which was funded by ZonMw, parents who came to the consultation office with their 6-month-old baby were referred to the dentist or dental hygienist. Dental care for children up to the age of 18 is reimbursed in the Netherlands from the basic insurance and is therefore free for children (and there is also no deductible).

At first glance, things seem to be going well with the oral care and oral health of children in the Netherlands: 93% of school-going children (4-12 years old) go to the dentist every year. This is even a few percent higher in the group of 12 to 16-year-olds. But of children between 0 and 4 years old, only 38% visit the dentist annually. While at that young age, starting cavities do arise, which if they are not discovered in time and treated adequately, grow into larger cavities, with all the unpleasant consequences that entails. About a quarter of the children in the Netherlands already have cavities or filled cavities at the age of five.

It has been found that it is wise to go to the dentist or dental hygienist from the moment the first tooth erupts. The GigaGaaf! study examined whether referral by the health clinic has an effect. This has been studied in North-East Groningen, East Drenthe and in various neighborhoods in The Hague, such as Transvaal. These are regions where relatively many people live with cavities in their teeth.

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Information to parents
During those first few visits to the dentist, the young child can get used to the environment at the dentist or dental hygienist, the chair and the sounds. But those first visits may be even more focused on the parents. They are informed about the importance of good oral self-care: regular brushing with fluoride toothpaste, a healthy diet, and not too many eating and drinking moments in one day that can cause cavities.

Inviting or referring had an effect: 54% of the children who were referred to a dentist or dental hygienist in the context of the study visited a dental care provider in their first year of life, while only 6% of the children in the control group visited a dentist or dental hygienist. The children who participated in the study were followed for five years and all children had a dental check-up at the age of five. It turned out that the five-year-old children in the intervention group had about 20 percent fewer early cavities than children in the control group. The GigaGaaf! method seems to be a good way to improve the oral health of young children.

Giga Cool! is a research project of the University Medical Center Groningen in collaboration with TNO Child Health and Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management, youth health care organizations in The Hague, East Groningen and Coevorden, and various dental care practices in The Hague, East Groningen and Coevorden. It is funded by ZonMw. The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport asked ZonMw to have additional research carried out after it turned out that 41% of 5-year-olds already had cavities and many of them did not visit a dentist or dental hygienist until later. In this study, a collaboration between consultation centers and oral care professionals was built up. The goal of GigaGaaf! was to improve the oral health of young children by referring 6-month-old children from the consultation office to an oral care professional.

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2023-06-01 07:00:56
#Younger #dentist #cavities #News #Eemsdelta #region

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