Racial/Ethnic Differences in Oral Health Knowledge and Practices of Preschoolers' Parents
Purpose: To explore racial/ethnic similarities and differences in the oral health knowledge and practices among parents with pre-school age children to identify areas of oral health needing further education.
Design and Methods: A descriptive design was used with a convenience sample of 116 parents of Hispanic, Asian, and non-Hispanic Black children aged 3 to 5 years attending Head Start centers in San Francisco, California. Participants completed a 20-question survey provided in English, Spanish, and Cantonese.
Results: Although 72.5% of parents agreed that children under 2 years of age can get dental caries, only 37.1% recognized that cavities on baby teeth can lead to cavities on the child's permanent teeth (non-Hispanic Black – 54.5%, Hispanic – 26.9%, Asian – 53.4%). Most parents brush their children's teeth with toothpaste, yet the percentage of parents using fluoridated toothpaste ranged from 88.1% of Hispanic parents to only 70% of non-Hispanic Black parents.
Conclusions: Parents in this study were knowledgeable about and incorporated most aspects of oral hygiene into their daily lives. Findings identify gaps between knowledge and practice.
Clinical/Nursing Applications: Pediatric nurses have the opportunity to promote children's oral health by educating parents and providing anticipatory guidance on dental caries prevention when caring for children in schools, clinics, and acute care settings. Oral health education should be provided to parents in the language spoken most frequently by recipients and when children are infants in the hopes of preventing dental caries on primary teeth.