Dental visits by Australian preschool children


Dr Linda Slack-Smith, Senior Lecturer, School of Population Health, (M431), The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Nedlands, WA 6009, Australia. Fax: +61 8 9380 1188; email:


Objective:  To provide population-based data on dental visits in preschool children, to assist in the planning of such services and preventive programs.

Methodology:  Dental visits in young children are described and associated factors are investigated using data from the 1995 National Health Survey.

Results:  Thirty-eight per cent of children aged 3−4 years had ever visited a dental professional with 31% having visited a dental professional in the previous 12 months (total n = 1596). Factors associated with having ever visited a dental professional included age in years (χ2 = 74.16, P < 0.0001), state of residence (χ2 = 25.81, P= 0.0005) and private health insurance (χ2 = 7.96, P= 0.005). Similar factors were associated with visits in last 12 months. Western Australia had the lowest proportion of preschool children aged 3−4 years having ever visited a dental professional (29%) while South Australia had the highest proportion (48%). The major reasons given for dental visits were check-up and fillings.

Conclusion:  Data regarding children not as likely to attend dental services can be used to target services and assist in ensuring preschool children receive appropriate dental care.