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Open Access Understanding Oral Health Behaviors Among Children Treated for Caries Under General Anesthesia

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This article is Open Access under the terms of the Creative Commons CC BY licence.

Purpose: To identify factors that influence oral health behaviors in the pediatric population treated for caries under general anesthesia (GA).
Methods: Nineteen semi-structured key informant interviews were conducted with caregivers while their children received comprehensive dental care under GA. Interviews were recorded on audio and professionally transcribed. Transcripts were coded using an inductive approach, with codes categorized and themes identified in an iterative process among four investigators.
Results: Data from 14 English and five Spanish interviews were reported. Factors that impacted accessing dental services, toothbrushing, and sugar intake were related to experiences living with severe caries and family dynamics. Many caregivers found the process of accessing care challenging, with barriers ranging from a caregiver's denial of disease severity to insurance status and provider availability. Discordant dynamics between parents and their children hindered efforts to change oral health behaviors. Stress of daily life impacted the ability for some caregivers to prioritize oral health.
Conclusion: Our findings provide a better understanding of how a family's experiences and dynamics prior to dental care under GA can serve as barriers to changing oral health behaviors within an urban, Medicaid-enrolled population. Future work should address the complexity and context of familial interactions in efforts to improve surgical outcomes.
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Keywords: CHILD HEALTH; DENTAL ANESTHESIA; HEALTH; HEALTH RISK BEHAVIORS; SOCIOECONOMIC FACTORS

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Dr. Lee is an assistant professor, Department of Anesthesiology, College of Medicine, Department of Pediatric Dentistry, Chicago, Ill., USA;, Email: [email protected] 2: Dr. Lehew is a research assistant professor, Department of Pediatric Dentistry, Chicago, Ill., USA 3: Dr. Avenetti is a clinical associate professor, both in the Department of Pediatric Dentistry, Chicago, Ill., USA 4: Dr. Buscemi is an assistant professor, Department of Psychology, DePaul University, Chicago, Ill., USA 5: Dr. Koerber is a professor, Department of Oral Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences, College of Dentistry, University of Illinois at Chicago, USA

Publication date: May 1, 2019

More about this publication?
  • Acquired after the merger between the American Society of Dentistry for Children and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry in 2002, the Journal of Dentistry for Children (JDC) is an internationally renowned journal whose publishing dates back to 1934. Published three times a year, JDC promotes the practice, education and research specifically related to the specialty of pediatric dentistry. It covers a wide range of topics related to the clinical care of children, from clinical techniques of daily importance to the practitioner, to studies on child behavior and growth and development. JDC also provides information on the physical, psychological and emotional conditions of children as they relate to and affect their dental health.
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