Methods: Survey data were collected from 112 parents/guardians of children of pediatric patients with special health care needs (Age: 2 to 16 years) who received oral health care services in a hospital based pediatric dental clinic. The patients’ level of functioning was determined with the Survey Interview Form of a short version of the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales (2nd edition).
Results: The data showed that the pediatric patients ranged from the lowest to the highest level of functioning in regard to their ability to listen and understand, talk, relate to others, care for themselves, play with others, and their physical activities. The children’s gingival health was correlated with their ability to talk (r=-.211; p=.045). Their oral hygiene score correlated with their ability to talk (r=.207; p=.049) and their skills in social play interactions (r=.247; p=.019). The parents’ comfort level concerning teaching their child to brush and helping their child to brush correlated with the patient’s level of functioning. Whether a patient had visited the dentist before, whether a patient’s teeth were brushed, and whether parents wanted to get oral health instruction was correlated with their child’s level of functioning.
Conclusions: Treating pediatric patients with special health care needs is often a challenge. Preventing oral disease in these patients is therefore of utmost importance. These findings showed that understanding the level of functioning of these patients might predict the degree to which parents are comfortable and actually engage in oral health promotion efforts. Parent education should therefore consider the patient’s level of functioning.
Keywords: Adolescence, Behavioral science, Children, Pedodontics and special needs
See more of: Behavioral, Epidemiologic, and Health Services Research