Methods: Survey data were collected from 146 parents/guardians of pediatric patients with cleft lip and/or palate who received health care services in a hospital-based pediatric plastic surgery clinic.
Results: The data showed that the pediatric patients’ oral health ranged from very poor to excellent. Ninety percent of the patients had seen a dentist before. The children and parents were on average quite comfortable with going to the dentist (on a 5 point scale with 1=not at all comfortable: 4.15 / 4.69). The parents’ and the child’s comfort level correlated significantly (r=.50; p<.001). The younger the children were at their first dental visit, the more often they brushed (r=-.20; p=.023). The majority of the children (60%) brushed more than once per day. However, 31% had special issues with brushing and 20% with eating. The parents’ attitudes towards their child’s oral health were quite positive. The percentages of correct answers to the eleven oral health-related knowledge questions ranged from 99% to 52%, with knowledge related to the relationship between oral health and systemic health being the lowest. The more positive the parents’ attitudes were, the earlier they had taken the child for a first dental visit (r=-.207; p=.019) and the better their oral health-related knowledge was (r=.275; p=.002).
Conclusions: Based on these findings, it can be concluded that early first dental visits of children with cleft lip and/ or palate are crucial first steps to assure positive oral health promotion efforts, positive attitudes and increased oral health-related knowledge. Educating parents about the importance of their child’s oral health should start early on.
Keywords: Access, Children, Cleft lip-palate, Infants and Pedodontics
See more of: Behavioral, Epidemiologic, and Health Services Research