May 2019 Volume LIV Number 3


Policy Center

New Research: How Pediatricians Can Identify Children with High Caries Risk

November 2015 Volume L Number 6

The first phase of the Interprofessional Study of Oral Health in Primary Care: Common Risk Factor Study is complete, and the preliminary results are thought-provoking for both pediatric dentists and pediatric medical professionals. Thanks to Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio, several dental variables commonly included in pediatric medical records that seem to predict caries experience were identified.  These include:  
  • Referral to specialist at 12 months
  • Immunizations not up to date at 15 months
  • Breast milk at 15 months
  • History of broken appointments
  • Ethnicity
Based on results from year one, the project must capitalize on activities that are already occurring during the course of a well-child visit for accurate assessment of caries risk without adding the burden of additional "tools" to the workflow of the medical team.
For this year of the project, the goal is to explore common risk factors that may predict caries risk. Given the inconsistent use of existing tools, the lack of empirical support for dental-specific questions as predictors of future decay, and the limited amount of time during the well-child visit available for oral health, the logical next step is to identify those global variables collected routinely for all patients that can show a predictive relationship with dental disease. Using factors already identified in well-child visits that do not require a tangential dental arm of the visit will enable primary care providers to incorporate oral health more easily into the practice workflow.
The next phase of the project is conducting telephone interviews with one identified oral health champion and/or liaison from each of the project’s practice observation sites. This step will provide feedback on the most useful and feasible development of a caries risk assessment tool within electronic medical records systems for medical provider use.
Year one of the DentaQuest project (Interprofessional Study of Oral Health in Primary Care; was completed successfully and the AAPD received funding for a second year to build on the information gained during year one of the project. Year one findings strongly suggested that simplification of the caries-risk assessment (CRA) process will facilitate consistent integration of oral health in well child visits and lead to improved professional collaboration.

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