Preschoolers rarely do dental prophylaxis

Dental check-ups in preschool children too rare

Two thirds of preschool children miss dental prophylaxis. While 68 percent of the six to 18-year-olds have an individual check-up at the dentist once a year, this applies to only 31 percent of the under-six-year-olds, according to the results of a recent survey by the health insurance company Barmer GEK.

In the Dental Report 2012, the Barmer GEK evaluated all dental treatments of its over eight million insured persons from 2010. The study shows that two out of three preschoolers do not take advantage of prophylaxis at the dentist. This increases the risk of tooth decay on the milk teeth. Damage to the milk dentition can, however, also lead to damage to the permanent teeth, the experts warn.

Expansion of group prophylaxis required in kindergartens In its dental report, the Barmer GEK records factors such as the treatment rate, dentist contacts and expenses, broken down by region, gender and age groups. Compared to the previous year's report, the figures in the 2012 Dental Report show only a few changes, but once again show that the pre-school children 's participation in dental prophylaxis is too low, according to the experts. At least 31 percent of preschool children take the opportunity to have a preventive medical check-up, but the proportion must be expanded, the study authors demanded. Here, the experts also advocated increased group examinations and group prophylaxis in the kindergartens. At the presentation of the Dental Report 2012 in Berlin on Tuesday, study author Thomas Schäfer from the Hanoverian Institute for Social Medicine, Epidemiology and Health System Research emphasized the importance of prophylaxis for children's dental health. Damage to the deciduous teeth would "later often result in damage to the permanent teeth", the expert said. Schäfer therefore asked: "We have to strengthen the acceptance of early childhood screening, especially in socially weak families and with single mothers."

Children must not be left behind by dental progress. Around six percent of the total fillings used relate to milk teeth, which, in the opinion of the authors and the Barmer GEK, speaks for an expansion of group prophylaxis among preschool children. More intensive care for children from socially disadvantaged families is also appropriate here, the experts explained. "We have to be careful that the little ones are not left behind by dental progress," warned the deputy chairman of the Barmer GEK, Rolf-Ulrich Schlenker, when the dental report was presented. A systematic expansion of group provision in kindergartens is therefore necessary. However, everything is not going perfectly for the six to 18 year olds either. Although 68 percent of adolescents in this age group participate in individual check-ups at the dentist, "here, too, we have to ensure that the contribution money is used more appropriately and that we do not risk the two-thirds supply," warned Rolf-Ulrich Schlenker.

Women more often at the dentist than men With a view to the total population, the propensity for prophylaxis overall still seems to be expandable. Only slightly more than half of the more than eight million Barmer GEK insured persons took advantage of the annual dental prophylaxis including the stamp in the bonus booklet. Although the entries in the bonus booklet promise advantages or exemptions for future dental treatments, this incentive does not seem to interest many. Although women are at the dentist significantly more often than men (74 percent compared to 66 percent at least once a year), around a quarter of them also fail to perform the routine annual check-up. In terms of dental health, an increase in individual preventive care at the dentist would be desirable, according to the expert. (fp)

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