J Korean Acad Oral Health.  2017 Jun;41(2):73-79. 10.11149/jkaoh.2017.41.2.73.

Effectiveness of oral examination for infants and toddlers: effects on subsequent utilization and costs

Affiliations
  • 1Department of Social and Humanity in Dentistry, College of Dentistry, Wonkwang University, Iksan, Korea. shinhosung@gmail.com
  • 2Department of Dental Hygiene, Kyungbok University, Pocheon, Korea.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES: With increasing emphasis being placed on early interventions for health promotion, early dental visits to prevent early childhood caries have been receiving more attention. Infant oral health examinations have been implemented as a component of early health examination in South Korea, but there is a lack of research on its effectiveness. This study aimed to estimate the effectiveness of infant and toddler oral health examinations by performing economic analyses of infant health examinations and dental treatment costs after examinations.
METHODS
The analyses were conducted using the National Health Insurance Service claims data. Subjects included in this study were children who had undergone their “3(rd) infant oral health examination (54-65 months)” between 2010 and 2014. To estimate dental treatment costs over the five years, four retrospective cohorts were evaluated, which included a total of 256,965 subjects. The direct medical costs following infant oral health examinations were calculated over five years (including only costs from health insurance claims), and the effects of infant oral health examinations were compared.
RESULTS
Although the rate of infant oral health examinations showed a persistently increasing trend, differences were observed according to the type of health insurance. Children who underwent infant oral health examinations showed a higher number of visits to the dentist, but lower dental treatment costs compared with children who did not undergo examinations.
CONCLUSIONS
This study confirmed, from an economic perspective, the effects of policy interventions that emphasize the necessity of early intervention and a life-course health management strategy, based on the concept that oral health is not determined at specific time points, but rather is determined by the accumulation of exposure to various factors over the course of life.

Keyword

Early health intervention; Early childhood caries; Economic effectiveness; Oral health examinations
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