Objective: The aim of this study was to follow attendance patterns longitudinally by exploring length of intervals between routine dental examinations in children at the ages of 5 and 12 years, and study associations between length of recall intervals and caries prevalence, controlled for gender, parent’s background and parent’s education.
Materials and methods: The study included 2960 children in one Norwegian county monitored from 5 to 12 years of age. Data were collected at clinical examinations, from dental records and by parental questionnaires. Length of recall intervals was dichotomized into short (shorter than 18 months) and long (18 months and longer). Data were analysed and tested using Chi-square statistics, correlation coefficient and multivariate regression. The study was ethically approved.
Results: Recall intervals were individualized and varied from 4 to 30 months. The most frequent used recall intervals were 12, 18, 20 and 24 months. A majority of children at both ages were given long recall intervals. Multivariate logistic regression showed that the probability of having short interval was higher in children having caries experience than in caries-free children at both 5 years (OR 12.6 CI 9.9–16.0) and 12 years (OR 2.7 CI 2.3–3.1). At 5 years of age, length of recall intervals was associated with parents’ background (OR 1.8 CI 1.4–2.4) and parents’ education (OR 1.3 CI 1.0–1.5).
Conclusions: The results showed that routine intervals were individualized and extended, indicating that more resources were spent on children with the highest need of dental care, aiming at reducing health inequalities.