Aim: To determine the frequency and reasons of missed and canceled pediatric dental appointments and identifying the factors associated with it among the patients visiting the pediatric dental clinic of the dental college in Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. To assess the parents’ perception regarding the treatment of their children and to explore the merit of different management strategies regarding the missed appointments.
Materials and methods: Self-administered questionnaires were handed over to the parents in the waiting area, whose children were undergoing treatment in the pediatric dental clinic. Questionnaire included questions pertaining to the sociodemographic characteristics, methods of remembering appointments, and satisfaction with the overall past clinic experience.
Results: Of the 294 surveyed sample, 52.0% stated that they have missed an appointment. Highest percentage of the patients had missed due to parents’ forgetfulness and patient's exams; 52.0% relied on their memory to remember their appointments, and 44.5% used their diaries and mobiles as a means of reminders. For canceling an appointment, most of them stated that patient was unwell and parents’ commitments toward other work led to an increase in rates of no-shows. Socioeconomic status and the methods of remembering the appointment date were found to be significantly correlated with missing an appointment among the surveyed sample (p < 0.05); 48.3% said that they would want a call from the dentist a day prior to their appointment as a reminder.
Conclusion: Around one half of the patients attending the pediatric dental clinic missed their appointments. Patients most likely to fail to keep an appointment was the one who was young, remembered appointment via memory, came from a high socioeconomic class, most of them were males, and had previously broken appointments, while patients preferred receiving a call from the dentist as a reminder aide.
Clinical significance: Missing appointment creates a series of problems. Firstly, it deprives another patient the opportunity of getting treated. Secondly, it contributes to the development of long waiting list for dental services. Thirdly, it affects the atient's treatment time and may cause increase in the dental emergencies leading to a disruption in the doctor–patient relationship and behavioral management problems.
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