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Comment & Response
July 31, 2017

The Benefit of Early Preventive Dental Care for Children—Reply

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Health Care Organization and Policy, University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health, Birmingham
  • 2Department of Health Policy and Management, Texas A&M School of Public Health, College Station
JAMA Pediatr. Published online July 31, 2017. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2017.2060

In Reply Our recent analysis of early preventive dental care and restorative outcomes1 has prompted responses from many scientists and practitioners who clearly care deeply about children’s oral health. For this, we are grateful. However, it is necessary to respond to some of the points that they have raised.

Our selection of outcomes was motivated by policy statements, such as the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists stating that “early dental visits should be expected to reduce the child’s future dental risk leading to improved oral health and reduced oral health costs.”2 We stated in the Limitations section that “claims data cannot capture any indirect benefits of preventive dental care, such as reductions in missed school days or an improved quality of life.”1 Thus, we agree with Webman and with Gerald that early preventive dental care may have other potentially important outcomes and that more research is warranted. However, it is unscientific to assert that such benefits exist (or do not exist) in the absence of this research.

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