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Pediatr Dent. 2006 Mar-Apr;28(2):102-5; discussion 192-8.

Examining the cost-effectiveness of early dental visits.

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Department of Pediatric Dentistry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA.


The subject of early dental visits as an integral dimension of anticipatory guidance and the related supporting scientific evidence for this concept is a critical and timely issue for the dental profession. The purpose of this paper was to review the scientific evidence and rationale for early dental visits. In theory, early dental visits can prevent disease and reduce costs. During the age 1 dental visit, there is strong emphasis on prevention and parents are given: (1) counseling on infant oral hygiene; (2) home and office-based fluoride therapies; (3) dietary counseling; and (4) information relative to oral habits and dental injury prevention. There is evidence that the early preventive visits can reduce the need for restorative and emergency care, therefore reducing dentally related costs among high-risk children. Preschool Medicaid children who had an early preventive dental visit by age 1 were more likely to use subsequent preventive services and experienced less dentally related costs. These finding have significant policy implications, and more research is needed to examine this effect in a low-risk population.

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