Things to Know about Baby Teeth: A Parent Inventory
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Abstract Purpose: Parents play a vital role in the health of their children. Accurate knowledge is one determinant of health behavior choices. Very little is known about parents' knowledge of their children's oral health. This study tested the reliability and validity of a parent inventory of knowledge of pediatric oral health and examined associations between parents' knowledge of the deciduous (primary) dentition, receipt of dental visit(s), and frequency of brushing their young children's teeth. Methods: As part of the planning and baseline assessment for an intervention to increase frequency of tooth brushing, 107 parents of children ages 6 months through 5 years living in rural Washington State completed a questionnaire about dental health status, dental care and a brief inventory of their dental health knowledge. The inventory, Things to Know about Taking Care of Baby Teeth (TTK-14) includes14 statements regarding young children's dental hygiene, disease and development that are scored on a three-point scale from "I don't know" to "I know for sure". Results: The mean TTK-14 score was 2.33 (SD = .38). On average, parents were sure of their knowledge in six of the 14 TTK-14 topics; and more parents were sure about knowledge of dental hygiene than about dental disease or dental development. The items parents were least sure of included the following: the age to begin the use of fluoride toothpaste, (55% weren't sure or didn't know), that cavities in baby teeth can be predictive of cavities in the adult teeth (77% weren't sure or didn't know) or that caries is an infectious disease transmissible through saliva (50% weren't sure or didn't know). TTK-14 total scores were significantly associated with parent's age, child's age, and the number of children in the home. TTK-14 scores were also higher for parents who brushed their children's teeth twice daily vs. less often (t(105) = 2.16; p<0.0001), parents of children reported to be in good, very good or excellent oral health vs. fair or poor oral health (t(102) = 2.10; p=0.03) and among parents of children who had been to a dentist at least once (t(95) = 2.26; p=0.02). Conclusions: Professional dental care is one of many potential sources of information about home hygiene and pediatric dental care. In rural, low-income regions, community health programs have the potential to deliver, augment, and reinforce oral health recommendations for parents of young children and support preventive oral health care practices.
- Health services