Parental influence on children's oral health-related behavior

Acta Odontol Scand. 2006 Oct;64(5):286-92. doi: 10.1080/00016350600714498.


Objective: The aim of this study was to determine whether there are differences between oral health-related knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and behaviors of children and their parents, and to identify the family-related factors associated with children's poor or good oral health-related behavior.

Material and methods: The data were gathered by means of questionnaires from 11-12-year-old schoolchildren and their parents who replied without having knowledge of the answers of the others. Differences between subgroups of children were analyzed by cross-tabulation, and the factors related to children's good or poor oral health-related behavior by logistic regression analyses.

Results: Parents of children who reported good oral health-related behavior had better knowledge and more favorable behaviors than those of other parents. Predictors for a child's poor oral health-related behavior were the child's poor knowledge, male gender, the parent's frequent consumption of sweets, and the parent's infrequent use of xylitol gum. When a less strict threshold for the child's poor oral health-related behavior was used, more predictors entered the model: the parent's unfavorable use of fluoride toothpaste; among girls, the parent's lack of knowledge; and among children whose mother's occupation level was high, the parent's infrequent use of xylitol gum. The parents of children whose oral health behavior was favorable were more likely to have a high level occupation and favorable oral health-related behaviors.

Conclusions: Oral health-related knowledge of children and their parents seems to be associated with children's oral health-related behavior. Parents' behaviors, but not attitudes, were associated with children's oral health behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Behavior / psychology*
  • Dental Caries / prevention & control
  • Dental Caries / psychology
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Oral Hygiene / psychology*
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Toothbrushing / psychology