SAN ANTONIO—Delayed immunization status, a low appointment attendance rate, and breastfeeding at 12 and/or 15 months of age are risk factors for caries in young children, researchers reported at the 2016 annual meeting of the American Academy of PAs (AAPA).
Patrick Killeen, MS, PA-C, chief physician assistant at Western Connecticut Health Systems in Danbury, and colleagues sought to identify health screening measures from the well-child encounter that may also be associated with the risk for caries. They obtained dental health information from a major tertiary pediatric center and conducted a cross-sectional univariate analysis with more than 40 variables related to routine nutrition, safety, development, and other screenings contained within the 12- and 15-month well-child templates to determine their association with “lifetime caries experience” or “caries risk status.”
A total of 1,736 patients had a 12- and/or 15-month preventive medical visit(s) and at least one dental appointment (mean age, 40 months). In addition to observing well-accepted risk factors for caries such as Hispanic ethnicity and high poverty rate, the researchers found that delayed immunization status, a history of missed appointments, and still breastfeeding at 12 and/or 15 months of age were also associated with an increased risk.
“The new risk factors for caries identified in this analysis are standard parts of well-child care that medical pediatric providers are adept at asking and require little or no additional data input above baseline well-child screening measures,” stated Mr. Killeen. “Next steps toward improving provider adherence to oral health screening at well-child visits are to incorporate these variables into a new medically specific caries-risk assessment tool within the electronic health record. Earlier oral health screenings, prompting more referrals of young children to a dental home, will help provide access to preventive dental services to those children most at risk for dental problems.”
- Killeen P, Casamassimo P, Frese W, et al. Caries risk assessment in the medical office identifying common risk factors toward a more effective screening tool. ePoster presented at: 2016 meeting of the American Academy of PAs; May 14-18, 2016; San Antonio, TX.