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Children more likely to visit the dentist if their parents do too
Date:2/1/2010

Whether or not children receive regular dental care is strongly associated with their parents' history of seeking dental care. A new report to appear in the journal Pediatrics, which has been released online, is the first to analyze the relationship between parents' and childrens' dental visits in a nationally represntative sample.

"When parents don't see the dentist, their children are much less likely to see the dentist," says Inyang Isong, MD, MPH, of the MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC) Center for Child and Adolescent Health Policy, the study's lead author. "We also found that the children of parents who have put off their own dental care for financial reasons are more likely to have their care deferred due to cost as well. It looks like strategies to promote oral health should focus on the whole family."

The study's authors note that dental caries tooth decay is of one of the most prevalent childhood diseases and is particularly common among minority and low-income children. Previous studies have associated factors including insurance coverage, parents' income and education, and the availability of dental care in the local community with the likelihood that children will have regular dental visits.

Earlier investigations of the impact of parents' accessing dental care focused on particular demographic groups. In order to see whether associations from those studies applied more broadly, the current investigation analyzed data from the 2007 National Health Interview Survey and its Child Health Supplement, which are designed to collect basic health and demographic information, along with answers to questions on health topics of current interest, from a cross section of the U.S. population.

Survey responses including data regarding dental visits for both a child and parent in the same household was available for around 6,100 matched pairs. Among parents who reported seeing a dentist during the pr
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Contact: Valerie Wencis
vwencis@partners.org
617-726-0274
Massachusetts General Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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