Parental Knowledge about Urban Preschool Children’s Oral Health Risk
Ganga Mahat and Felesia Bowen
Dental caries is one of the most prevalent and significant health problems in the
United States. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, more
than one-fourth of children between the ages of two and five years experience
early childhood caries before entering kindergarten. The purpose of this study
was to explore parent’s knowledge of preschool children’s oral health risk factors.
A descriptive design was used with a convenience sample of 87 parents of children
who attended day care centers and preschools. Seventeen knowledge
questions were used to assess parents’ knowledge of their child’s oral health.
Results showed that parents lacked knowledge in some aspects of oral health
care. The majority of parents knew that baby teeth are important, and both baby
and permanent teeth should be brushed. Fewer, however, perceived that cavities
in baby teeth lead to cavities in permanent teeth. Similarly, parents knew the role
of food in the dental caries, but fewer perceived that cavities may be caused by
using a bottle or infant drinking cup to drink fluid other than water and frequent
snacking. Findings illuminate the knowledge gaps in this sample of parents of
preschoolers. Pediatric nurses can play a key role in promoting children’s oral
health and preventing dental caries by proving anticipatory guidance and education
to children and their parents at well child visits, during hospitalization, and in
school and community settings.