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Keywords

Attitudes; Behaviors; Caries; Children; Children – Dental care; Community dental services; Dental caries in children; Dental health education; Parents – Attitudes; Poor children

Abstract

Despite the declining prevalence of dental caries over recent decades, caries remain the most common chronic childhood disease, especially in high-risk (low socio-economic status) populations. This appears to be true even when parents are aware of good oral health habits. The purpose of this study was to gather oral hygiene data on high-risk children in Nevada and to assess parental attitudes and education concerning their children’s oral health. Using visual examinations and a dmft (decayed, missing, filled, teeth) severity index, 235 lower SES children were screened and given treatment recommendations. The screenings showed larger than expected prevalence in both caries experience and untreated decay. Following the screenings, all the elementary school parents (754) were surveyed concerning their knowledge and attitudes toward oral health. A total of 386 surveys were completed and returned for a 55% response rate. Surprisingly, results from the parental survey showed positive attitudes and educational knowledge of oral health related to their children’s dentition. Based upon the findings, the authors suggest that future programs, designed to educate parents/guardians concerning childhood oral health, may not be as effective as previously thought in controlling childhood caries. However, future investigations of programs designed to better motivate parents/guardians, as well as create better access to oral health care for their children’s dental needs may find these programs to be more useful in improving the oral hygiene of Nevada’s children.