Mothers'/Guardians' Knowledge about Promoting Children's Oral Health

Authors: Akpabio, Aisha; Klausner, Christine P; Inglehart, Marita Rohr

Source: Journal of Dental Hygiene, 1 January 2008, vol. 82, no. 1, pp. 12-12(1)


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Purpose. The purpose of this study was (a) to explore what mothers know about promoting good oral health in their children and which information they need, and (b) to identify whether factors such as age, years of education, and number of children in the family affect their knowledge.

Methods. Data were collected from 105 mothers/guardians (age range: 19 to 54 years) who brought a child to an appointment at a community dental clinic. When provided with a choice, 54 mothers/guardians responded to surveys, and 61 participants asked to be interviewed. The respondents had between 1 and 9 children (mean=2.48).

Results. Only 25.7% of the respondents gave correct answers to a question concerning the age at which children should start seeing a dentist, and only 32.4% correctly answered a question about the age at which their children should have their teeth brushed. However, the majority of mothers (91.4%) knew that a child should not go to bed sucking on a bottle containing milk or juice. The higher the family income was, the more the respondents knew about dental care utilization and oral health-related behavior. The more years of education the respondents had, the more they knew about the consequences of poor oral health. The more children the mothers had, the more they knew about preventing oral health problems. The more knowledgeable the respondents were about oral health promotion, the more often they brushed and flossed, and the less dental anxiety they had.

Conclusions. Parents and caregivers can play an important role in preventing oral disease in children and should thus be well educated about oral health promotion. These findings point to the importance of focusing educational efforts on educating younger mothers with fewer children and/or less education who come from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds.

Keywords: children; mothers' knowledge; oral health; oral health promotion; prevention

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Michigan School of Dentistry, Ann Arbor, Mich

Publication date: January 1, 2008

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