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J Am Dent Assoc. 2003 Dec;134(12):1630-40.

Access to dental care for children in the United States: a survey of general practitioners.

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  • 1Department of Pediatric Dentistry, Baylor College of Dentistry, Dallas, Texas 75266-0677, USA.



In response to concern that inadequate dental school training may create a barrier to access to care for children, the authors conducted a survey concerning general practitioners' practice patterns involving child patients.


The authors requested a list of 4,970 randomly chosen general practitioners from the American Dental Association Survey Center. They then sent those dentists a written survey asking whether and in what numbers they treat children; the ages and caries levels of any children they do treat; their perceptions of their educational experiences in pediatric dentistry, and their perceived needs for continuing education in pediatric dentistry. They analyzed data using chi2.


Ninety-one percent of the general dentists surveyed treated children, but those younger than 4 years of age, with high levels of caries, and whose care is funded by Medicaid were represented in very low numbers. The types of patients treated and procedures performed by the respondents were significantly (P < or = .05) associated with the intensity of the respondents' educational experiences, except for the number and types of Medicaid patients they treated.


These data indicate that the vast majority of general practitioners treat children in their practices, but there still are groups of children for whom access to dental care is a problem.


Very young children, children with high levels of caries and Medicaid-covered children have difficulty finding dental care in the general practice community.

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