Introduction: Many Canadian children are affected by early childhood caries (ECC) and require treatment under general anesthesia. The purpose of this study was to determine the burden of day surgery for children with ECC in Canada.
Methods: Day surgery abstracts for children 6 years of age with ECC were extracted from the Canadian Institute for Health Information Discharge Abstract Database and National Ambulatory Care Reporting System for 4 years, 2010/11 to 2013/14. All provinces and territories participated except Quebec. Variables considered included sex, age, proportion of immigrants in the neighbourhood, Aboriginal concentration, material deprivation index and rurality. Rates were calculated for the pooled 4-year cohort.
Results: The overall rate of dental surgery to treat ECC was 12.1 per 1000 children 12-59 months of age, accounting for 31.0% of all day surgeries performed on this age group in Canada. Rates of dental surgery for children from neighbourhoods with a high proportion of Aboriginal people were 7.8 times those for children living in areas with a low proportion (84.5 vs. 10.9 per 1000). For children from rural regions of Canada, rates were 3.2 times those of urban dwelling children (31.2 vs. 9.8 per 1000). Children from the least-affluent regions had dental surgery rates 3.7 times higher than those from the most-affluent communities (25.7 vs. 6.9 per 1000). Total hospital-associated costs of treating ECC under general anesthesia averaged $21184545 annually.
Conclusion: Dental surgery for ECC is far too common and occurs more often among children from the least-affluent households, rural regions and communities with a high proportion of Aboriginal people. Dental surgery rates can serve as an important population health indicator.