Early Childhood Caries Prevention Program in Turkey

Taskin Gurbuz1,2, Sera Derelioglu2, Zahide Kosan3
1 Department of Pediatric Dentistry, Istanbul Medeniyet University Faculty of Dentistry, Istanbul, Turkey
2 Department of Pediatric Dentistry, Ataturk University Faculty of Dentistry, Erzurum, Turkey
3 Department of Public Health, Ataturk University Faculty of Medicine, Erzurum, Turkey

Background: In Turkey, preventive treatments for infant oral and dental care are currently carried out mainly through some limited university studies. One of the primary reasons for this is the challenge in reaching infants and toddlers.

In order for providing the preschool-age children with dental health services, patients should present at the medical or oral health care centers with pediatric dental clinics. But, unfortunately people do not refer to a dental clinician unless they have a problem and it becomes too late when they applied with the apparent complaints.

0-6 years of children can be reached over through the educational establishments such as pre-schools or kindergartens. But even so, children under 5 years may not be thoroughly covered, since quite a little number of them is receiving education prior to the primary school.

However early childhood education before the primary school is not extensive in Turkey, dental screening and fluoride varnish applications can be provided for as many as children reached in those educational establishments and their parents can also be instructed in oral hygiene.

Regarding the children who do not receive early childhood education, family physicians should play a key role in preventing the oral and dental diseases. This may be enabled by making them qualified enough to instruct the younger children and their families who presented for routine check-ups, about the oral hygiene and also to refer the children with high risk of caries to a dental professional.

One of the issues complicating the fight against dental caries in Turkey is the uneven geographical distribution of dental professionals and the number of patients. This condition causes the abandonment of preventive dentistry due to the heavy workload on the therapeutic dentistry.

In order to overcome these issues family physicians, pediatricians and the pediatric dentists should cooperate in a team-work.

Taskin Gurbuz