Caregiver knowledge and attitudes of preschool oral health and early childhood caries (ECC)

Int J Circumpolar Health. 2007 Apr;66(2):153-67. doi: 10.3402/ijch.v66i2.18247.


Objectives: Prevention strategies are integral to improving the oral health for young Aboriginal children. For such to be effective, it is important to understand the social value that parents and caregivers ascribe to primary teeth. The purpose of this paper is to report caregiver knowledge and attitudes toward preschool oral health and early childhood caries (ECC) from 4 communities in Manitoba.

Study design: Cross-sectional study, including a retrospective interview with caregivers.

Methods: Children and their main caregivers served as the sample. Preschoolers underwent a comprehensive dental screening while caregivers completed a questionnaire that explored knowledge and attitudes toward preschool dental health. Caregiver responses were matched with findings from each child's examination.

Results: A majority agreed that primary teeth were important, that dental disease could lead to health problems and that a first dental visit should be made by age 1. Caregivers of children with ECC were more likely to believe that caries could not affect a child's health while those who believed primary teeth are important had children with significantly less decay.

Conclusions: Most caregivers believed that primary teeth are important and correctly responded to inquiries about knowledge and attitudes toward oral health. Attitudes on the importance of baby teeth and bottle feeding after one year of age, the effect of rotten teeth on childhood health and night-time nursing emerged as variables most associated with the absence/presence of ECC and deft rates. Incorporating such questioning into caries risk assessments may be a useful means to determine a child's risk for ECC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Caregivers / education*
  • Child Care / trends
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dental Care for Children / statistics & numerical data*
  • Dental Caries / complications
  • Dental Caries / ethnology*
  • Dental Caries / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American / statistics & numerical data*
  • Infant
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Manitoba / epidemiology
  • Oral Health*
  • Parents
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Tooth, Deciduous