The Health and Well-Being of Children in Rural Areas: A Portrait of the Nation 2005
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Overweight  |  Injury  |  Parents' Concerns  |  Current Health Insurance  |  Coverage Consistency  |  Preventive Health Care Visits
Preventive Dental Visits  |  Medical Home  |  Staying Home Alone  |  Repeating a Grade  |  Regular Physical Activity

Preventive Dental Visits

The Bright Futures guidelines for health supervision of infants, children, and adolescents recommend that children visit a physician for preventive health care six times during the first year, three times in the second year, and annually thereafter.1 Preventive visits provide the opportunity to monitor a child’s growth and development, assess behavior, provide immunizations, discuss important issues regarding prevention of injury and violence, review appropriate nutrition, and answer any parental questions. Overall, almost 78 percent of children received a preventive care visit in the past year. Receipt of a preventive visit is noticeably less likely in rural areas: 73.2 percent of children in small rural areas and 74.3 percent in large rural areas received a preventive visit in the past year, compared to 78.8 percent of children in urban areas.

Children of all ages in rural areas are less likely to receive a preventive health care visit over the course of a year than children in urban areas; in most cases, rates are the lowest in small rural areas, in particular. For instance, among children from birth to age 5, 89.1 percent in urban areas received a preventive health visit in the past year, compared to 85.8 percent in small rural areas. Among children aged 6-11 years, those rates are 73.6 and 64.9 percent, respectively. The oldest children, aged 12-17 years, also experience the highest rates of preventive care receipt in urban areas (73.7 percent), while the rates in large rural and small rural areas are approximately the same (70.3 and 70.4 percent, respectively).

In each location, Hispanic children are the least likely to receive an annual preventive care visit. Among urban children, 71.8 percent of Hispanic children received a visit, compared to 80.8 percent of White children and 81.4 percent of Black children. Similarly, among children in small rural areas, fewer than two-thirds (66.4 percent) of Hispanic children had a preventive visit in the past year, compared to 73.6 percent of White children and 76.3 percent of Black children.

1 Casmassimo P, Holt K. Bright Futures in practice: oral health—pocket guide. Washington DC: National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center; 2004.

Graph: Percent of children with a preventive dental visit in the past year, by location

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This chartbook is based on data from the National Survey of Children's Health. Suggested citation: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau. The National Survey of Children's Health 2003. Rockville, Maryland: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2005.