Objectives: To investigate the association between oral health, in terms of dental caries and gingivitis, and sociodemographic factors, dental plaque, oral hygiene behaviours, infant feeding and dietary practices in 4-5-year-old Jordanian children.
Methods: Two-stage random sampling procedure was used to select children enrolled in kindergartens in Amman, Jordan. Clinical examinations were carried out by one examiner. Mothers completed questionnaires relating to sociodemographic factors, oral hygiene behaviours, infant feeding and dietary practices of the children.
Results: About 67% of the children had caries, 31% had dmft greater than 4 and 66% had gingivitis. Of the children who had been wholly breast-fed, 86% had been fed on demand. Mothers of children attending kindergartens with the lowest tuition fees were more likely to have breast-fed their children on demand and for more than 18 months (prolonged breast feeding) compared to those attending kindergartens with higher fees. Savory snacks were consumed by 82%, confectionery by 76% and teas with sugar by 42% of the children. Multivariate analysis showed age, dental plaque, sleeping beside the mother, use of comforters and selected dietary habits to have an independent effect on caries prevalence. Dental plaque and prolonged breast feeding exerted an independent effect on caries severity and gingivitis. The strongest association with gingivitis was dental plaque.
Conclusions: In Jordan as elsewhere health promotion strategies need to be targeted to mothers from less advantaged backgrounds. Messages about infant breast feeding should emphasise that the method is beneficial to the oral health of the children if appropriately used.