Oral health is frequently ignored by paediatricians

Dickson-Smith V, Kenny A, Gussy M et al. The knowledge and practice of paediatricians in children's oral health: a scoping review. BMC Oral Health 2020; DOI:10.1186/s12903-020-01198-0.

Knowledge and understanding of oral disease is lacking.

The key role of paediatricians in children's oral health, in screening, advising and referring as appropriate, has been little researched.

Oral health knowledge of paediatricians was often reported as inadequate, with limited understanding of bacterial transmission from mother to child, lack of awareness of the appearance of early carious lesions and outdated knowledge of fluoride use. In practice, screening for oral disease was variable. For instance, Australian paediatricians, in general assessments, screened around 70% of all cases for chest and cardiac conditions but only 40% for oral conditions. Barriers to knowledge and practice included lack of both training and time. Barriers to referral to a dental specialist included insurance systems and costs, long wait times and a lack of referral pathways.

Formal education and training is needed, but research suggests that while this may increase confidence and knowledge, it might be insufficient to change practice.

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Correspondence to Paul Hellyer.

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Hellyer, P. Oral health is frequently ignored by paediatricians. Br Dent J 229, 302 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41415-020-2121-6

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