Oral health of Polish three-year-olds and mothers' oral health-related knowledge

Community Dent Health. 2004 Jun;21(2):175-80.


Objectives: To evaluate the oral health of Polish three-year-olds, to investigate oral health-related knowledge, habits and educational levels of their mothers, and to determine whether mothers' health-related knowledge influenced caries severity in their children.

Design: A cross-sectional. nationwide oral health survey of three-year-olds was performed in 2002. Their mothers completed self-administered questionnaires.

Participants: The oral health survey covered 1,114 three-year-olds chosen by stratified random sampling.

Outcome measures: Dental caries was recorded according to WHO criteria and methods. Questionnaires investigated demographic factors, mothers' and children's oral health-related habits and oral health knowledge.

Results: A total of 43.8% of three-year-olds were caries-free. Mean dmft was 2.9, with the greatest component being decayed teeth (2.8). Nearly two-thirds of mothers had never taken their child to a dentist; a similar proportion declared care of the deciduous teeth to be unnecessary. Mothers' opinions concerning their children's oral health was over-optimistic. A strong interdependence was found between oral health and mothers' level of oral health-related knowledge, and between mothers' level of knowledge and their level of education.

Conclusion: The level of dental caries in Polish three-year-olds was alarmingly high, and was associated with a low level of oral health-related knowledge among mothers, suggesting an urgent need for the implementation of systematic oral health education and promotion for expectant mothers and mothers of small children.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • DMF Index
  • Dental Caries / epidemiology*
  • Dental Caries / psychology*
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Health Education, Dental*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Poland / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires