Caries conditions among 2-5-year-old immigrant Latino children related to parents' oral health knowledge, opinions and practices

Community Dent Oral Epidemiol. 1999 Feb;27(1):8-15. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0528.1999.tb01986.x.


Objectives: To collect baseline data prior to initiating a community-based, oral health promotion program in an inner city Latino community in Washington DC, populated by Central American immigrants.

Methods: In 1995, an oral survey of a convenience sample of children 2-5 years of age (n = 142) and a survey of the knowledge, opinions and practices (KOP) of their parents (n = 121) were completed. Clinical data of children were matched with parent respondents of the KOP survey. Data were analyzed for statistical associations using univariate odds ratios, Fisher's exact tests, and multiple logistic regression.

Results: Only 53% of the children were caries free. Eighteen percent of all children were in need of immediate dental care and 26% were in need of early or non-urgent dental care. Only 7% of the parents knew the purpose of sealants and 52% knew the purpose of fluorides. Further, only 9% thought that brushing with toothpaste can prevent tooth decay The strongest predictors of dental caries in this population, after adjusting for child's age and mother's education, were recency of mother's residence in the United States and report of an uncooperative child when attempting toothbrushing.

Conclusions: Regimens of caries prevention have been successful in reducing dental decay for a large segment of the US population, yet this disease remains prevalent especially among low socioeconomic groups. The oral health status of the children and the oral health KOP of the parents in this community are disturbingly deficient.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Central America / ethnology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Demography
  • Dental Caries / ethnology*
  • Dental Caries / prevention & control
  • Dental Health Surveys
  • District of Columbia / epidemiology
  • Emigration and Immigration* / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Hispanic or Latino / psychology*
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oral Health*
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Prevalence