Aim: This was to evaluate the influence of mothers' oral health-related knowledge and attitudes on the tooth-brushing behaviour and dental health of their children and to compare the effect of these maternal aspects on child's oral health.
Study design and methods: In 2005, an oral health study conducted among a random sample of 457 mother and child pairs in Tehran, Iran, used self-administered questionnaires to provide data on mothers' oral health-related knowledge and attitudes and children's tooth-brushing behaviour. Clinical data allowed assessment of dental status of the primary and permanent dentition.
Statistics: Chi-square test and binary logistic regression models were employed.
Results: Generally, mothers had extensive knowledge of and positive attitudes towards oral health. Mothers' higher level of oral health knowledge and better attitude scores were associated with children's sound dentition (p<0.05), while only mothers' better attitude was associated with children's twice-daily tooth brushing (p=0.001). The multivariate analyses showed that children of mothers with higher attitude scores were more likely to brush their teeth twice daily (OR = 2.1; 95% CI 1.2 - 3.7) and have sound dentition (OR = 12.4; 95% CI 1.8 - 85.9). The models revealed that mother's knowledge per se had no effect on children's sound dental health, but showed an additive effect with mother's attitudes.
Conclusions: Because twice-daily tooth-brushing behaviour and sound dentition in 9-year-olds were associated with their mothers' positive oral health-related attitudes, in developing oral health promotion programs for children and adolescents, the considerable potential of mothers should be a major focus of oral health professionals.