Canadian dentists' views on the first dental visit
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Introduction: Early dental visits set children on the proper trajectory for a lifetime of optimal oral health. The purpose of this study was to undertake secondary analysis of data obtained from a national survey of Canadian dentists to determine their knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours regarding first dental visits. Methods: In 2013, the Canadian Dental Association (CDA) surveyed general and pediatric dentists regarding their knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours on the timing of the first dental visit and early childhood oral health. Demographic and practice characteristics were collected. Analyses included descriptive and bivariate analyses, analysis of variance (ANOVA), and multiple logistic regression with forward stepwise selection. Significance was set at ≤ 0.05. Results: Overall, 3,232 dentists participated. The majority were male (58.5%), general dentists (96.6%), practicing for 20.6 ± 12.8 years in non-metropolitan areas (50.5%). The mean age recommended by dentists for a first visit was 20.4 ± 10.8 months. Only 45.4% recommended a first visit ≤ 12 months of age. The majority (59.5%) knew the correct age recommended for a first dental visit by professional dental organizations was no later than 12 months of age. Most (74.2 %) who had seen a patient ≤ 12 months, did not typically do so (82.3 %). Logistic regression revealed that the odds ratios for recommending a first visit ≤ 12 months of age was 0.66 for males, 0.076 for general dentists, 6.40 if dentists typically saw children ≤ 12 months, 2.12 if they used knee to knee techniques during exams, and 6.37 if they knew the correct age their dental organization recommended for a first visit. Conclusions: Many Canadian dentists do not recommend first visits by 12 months of age, despite it being the CDA’s position. Certain provider characteristics and behaviours influence the age they recommend for first visits. Findings will help to inform targeted educational campaigns directed towards dentists on early childhood oral health.