Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Dentistry



First Advisor

Jayakumar Jayaraman, BDS, MDS, FDSRCS, MS, PhD

Second Advisor

Tegwyn Brickhouse, DDS, PhD

Third Advisor

Caroline Carrico, PhD


Objective: This project aims to examine the association between the age of a child's first dental visit and their Early Childhood Oral Health Impact Scale (ECOHIS) score.

Methods: A 22-item cross-sectional survey was distributed to caregivers of healthy children aged 5 years and younger with an American Society of Anesthesiology (ASA) I and II status who presented for new patient exams.

Results: In total, 117 caregivers participated in the survey. The ECOHIS was assessed on a 5-point Likert scale and scores ranged from 0-52; higher values indicate poor oral health having a greater impact on the child and family. Those reporting their child’s first dental visit to be at or before age one had significantly lower ECOHIS scores than caregivers who selected ages 2-3 and 4-5 years respectively. The median ECOHIS score for those at or before age one was 3 (IQR: 1-8) compared to 4 (IQR: 1-10) for 2-3 years and 10 (IQR:8-18) for ages 4 and older (P= 0.011).

Conclusion: Families and children who present for the first dental visit at a younger age have lower ECOHIS scores (healthier early childhood oral health quality of life) than those who present for the first dental visit later in life. This finding highlights the importance of educating caregivers about the need for early first dental visits to mitigate the quality of life impact of poor oral health on the child and family.


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Available for download on Saturday, May 09, 2026