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Pediatr Dent. 2014 Nov-Dec;36(7):489-93.

Do early dental visits reduce treatment and treatment costs for children?

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Department of Pediatric Dentistry, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, USA.
Division of Pediatric Dentistry, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA.
Department of Pediatric Dentistry, University of Washington, Seattle, Wash., USA.
Church Street Health Management, Nashville, Tenn., USA.



The purpose of this paper was to determine if number and cost of dental treatments in high caries-risk children differs in children with early dental intervention compared to children with later intervention.


Billing data from children age zero to seven years old, whose first dental visit was between January 1, 2004 and December 31, 2004, were collected from 20 corporate treatment centers serving children from lower socioeconomic status backgrounds. Data included age at first visit, dental treatment codes, and associated costs for eight years after the first dental visit. Treatment included restorations, crowns, pulpotomies, and extractions. First visit age was categorized into early starters (younger than four years old) and late starters (four years of age or older). Linear regression with cluster adjustment for clinic determined a difference in costs and dental treatments by early and late starters.


Of 42,532 subjects, 17,040 (40 percent) were early starters and 25,492 (60 percent) were late starters. There were 3.58 more dental procedures performed on late starters, over eight years of follow-up, than on early starters (P<.001). Late starters spent $360 more over eight years of follow-up than early starters (P<.001).


In this study, number of procedures performed were fewer and cost of treatment less for children seen earlier versus later.

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