Dental Tribune America

Study examines mother’s perception of her child’s oral health status

PITTSBURGH, U.S.: Mothers play a primary role in the health of their children. This function may be particularly important for children in Appalachia, a region in the eastern U.S., who have increased dental caries relative to children in other areas of the U.S. In a recent study on families in the region, scientists have examined the degree to which a child’s caries experience is in concordance with the mother’s perception of the health of her child’s teeth, and how this agreement varies by socio-demographic factors. The finding was that the majority of mothers in the study were well aware of their children’s oral health status. The data obtained could help in developing novel caries prevention and treatment strategies.

The study was carried out by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine. The researchers obtained cross-sectional data on mothers and their children younger than 6 years old through the Center for Oral Health Research in Appalachia study. They interviewed and clinically examined a community-based sample of 815 mother–child dyads from Pennsylvania and West Virginia. They then statistically estimated the association between a mother’s perception of her child’s oral health status and her child’s actual caries status, and compared the socio-demographic factors between concordant and nonconcordant mother–child pairs.

The finding was that the mother’s perception of her child’s oral health status was strongly linked with the child’s caries experience. In total, two-thirds of mother–child dyads showed concordance between the mother’s perception of her child’s oral health status and the child’s caries experience. Concordance was associated with younger child age and the child having dental insurance coverage.

The mother’s awareness of her child’s oral health status could be used to develop effective prevention and treatment strategies, particularly for young children who are more susceptible to developing caries.

The study, titled “Association between a child’s caries experience and the mother’s perception of her child’s oral health status,” was published online in the June 2019 issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association.

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