The child population in Sweden has changed dramatically during the last 20 years. Changes have also occurred within the Public Dental Service (PDS), regarding the provision of dental care to children and adolescents. All these changes may affect the referral pattern and provision of specialist dental care for children and adolescents.
Objectives: The primary aim of this study was to survey the services provided by specialists in paediatric dentistry in Sweden during 2003. A secondary aim was to compare the results with previous surveys.
Methods: A Web-based survey was sent to all 34 specialist paediatric dentistry clinics and was answered by all clinics. Data were compared with results from the surveys performed in 1983, 1989, and 1996.
Results: The number of paediatric dentists had been relatively constant over the last 20 years, whereas the number of children referred to paediatric dentists had increased by 28% since 1983. It was estimated that 1.3% of all children in Sweden are treated at a specialist paediatric dental clinic in 2003. Dental treatment need in combination with behaviour management problems (BMP) was the main reason for referral and occurred in 37% of all referrals. The proportion of medically compromised children/children with disabilities had increased from 6% in 1983 to 22% in 2003. The number of patients treated using sedation and general anaesthesia had increased since 1983, and particularly since 1996.
Conclusions: Despite improvements in dental health among children and adolescents in Sweden during the last 20 years, an increasing number of children are referred for specialist paediatric dental treatment. There is an urgent need to increase the number of specialist paediatric dentists in Sweden in order to ensure the continuation of high quality of dental care for children and adolescents.