Method: 243 children, 2-4 years old, were recruited from daycare centers and preschools. A structured questionnaire was answered by child’s parents regarding socio-demographics, parental perception of child’s oral health status, oral health home care, and dental visit behaviors. The relationships between parental perception of child’s oral health and children oral health behaviors were assessed.
The subjects were 54% girls, 60% were white, and 70% were from families with annual household income <$60,000. 76% parents reported that their children’s teeth were in very good or good condition (vs 16% fair and 8% poor oral health). Perceived specific problems included tooth decay (9%), crooked teeth (16%), tooth discoloration (8%), broken tooth (3%), tooth pain (3%), and gum bleeding when brushing (2%). Compared to children whose parents reported fair or poor child’s oral health, children whose parents reported very good or good child’s oral health had more frequent toothbrushing (66% vs 47% twice daily, p=0.03), more use of dental floss (23% vs 11%, p=0.04), more use of mouthrinse (32% vs 25%, p=0.03). They were also more likely to have a family dentist (75% vs 38%, p<0.01), make dental visit in last year (64% vs 36%, p<0.01), use preventive dental services among those who made dental visit (96% vs 85%, p=0.01). However, there was no significant different in percentage of children having dental insurance (86% vs 76%, p=0.12).
Conclusion: Parents’ perception of their children oral health is related to the children’s both home and professional oral health care behaviors. Studies on the underlying causes are needed.
Keywords: Behavioral science
See more of: Behavioral, Epidemiologic, and Health Services Research