ANN ARBOR, Mich., Oct. 25 (UPI) -- Child health experts recommend children begin dental care by age 1, but most U.S. children ages 1-2 have not yet seen a dentist, researchers say.
Sarah Clark, associate director of the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit at the University of Michigan, said the National Poll on Children's Health asked 571 parents of children ages 1-5 about dental healthcare for young children.
The survey, conducted in May, indicated 23 percent of 1-year-olds had been to the dentist and 44 percent of 2-year-olds had been to the dentist.
"Dental problems such as early childhood caries -- cavities in the baby teeth -- are the leading cause of chronic disease for young children," Clark said in a statement. "Most dental problems can be prevented through good oral healthcare."
Parents may not be aware that their child should see a dentist by age 1, and finding a dentist who will see young children -- especially those covered by Medicaid -- is a long standing problem in some communities, Clark said.
"We know that not all children will see a dentist at age 1, but on the other hand, almost all children have well-child visits with a pediatrician or other healthcare provider," Clark said in a statement. "The results of this poll indicate that we need to improve the way oral health issues are addressed during well-child visits so that parents fully understand the need for good oral healthcare."
The poll's margin of error is 5 percentage points to 11 percentage points.