Introduction: The ideal time for the first dental visit of a child as recommended by many professional dental organizations across the world is by the age of one year. The aim of this study was to survey the age and the most common causes for the first visit to the dental office, as well as the recommendations of dentists regarding this visit.
Patients and methods: The present study included 289 children visiting a dentist for the first time. The children were divided into 5 age groups and the reasons for the visit were categorized into 9 groups. The variables we assessed were the percentages of children in each age group and the reasons for the first visit to the dentist. Respondents to a questionnaire were 145 dentists. The survey included questions on gender, years of professional experience, specialty, ability to work with children and recommendations concerning the age of the first visit to the dentist.
Results: The greatest number of children making their first dental visit were in the 3-6 year-olds (51.90 percent) and the smallest number were the children younger than 1 year (1.73%). The most common reason for making this visit was caries and its complications (59.86%). The second most common reason was parents' decision to have a prophylactic examination of their child (26.99%). The number of dentists in this country that recommended that the first visit should be before the age of 1 year is small (17.93%). 39.31% of the respondents recommended that the first dental visit should take place between 1 and 2 years of age, and 31.03 percent between 2 and 3 years. It was only pediatric dentists that recommended a dentist appointment in the first year of life - 47.37%. This study found that it was the female dentists that predominantly admit and treat children in their dental practices.
Conclusions: The results of the study show that in this country there is no established practice for children to make their first dental visit before they turn one year of age. The predominant cause to make the first visit is caries and its complications. It is necessary to work out recommendations on the age for the first visit to the pediatric dentist and related prophylactic measures.