Caregiver's perception of child's oral health status among low-income African Americans

Pediatr Dent. 2008 Nov-Dec;30(6):480-7.


Purpose: This study aimed to: (1) compare caregivers' perceptions of their children's oral health status with clinical findings; and (2) investigate the influence of caregivers' attitudes, beliefs, and knowledge concerning dental caries development and oral health on caregivers' perception levels of their children's oral health status.

Methods: A representative sample of low-income African American families (0- to 5-year-olds and their caregivers) in Detroit, Mich was interviewed. Caregivers were asked to assess their own and their children's oral health status. All children and their caregivers received dental examinations. This study included data from 885 caregivers with children aged 1 year or older.

Results: Approximately 79% of caregivers rated their children's oral health as good to excellent, and 21% rated it as fair to poor. Caregivers' perception of their children's oral health was significantly associated with their children's caries experience, as measured by the number of decayed, missing, and filled tooth surfaces. It was also associated with limitations of oral functions, such as chewing difficulty. Poorer perceptions of caregivers' oral health and fatalistic attitudes toward children's oral health were significantly associated with poorer perception of their children's oral health.

Conclusion: Caregivers' perception of their children's oral health status is a significant indicator of the children's clinical caries experience.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data*
  • Caregivers
  • Child, Preschool
  • DMF Index
  • Dental Caries / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Michigan
  • Middle Aged
  • Needs Assessment / statistics & numerical data
  • Oral Health*
  • Parents
  • Poverty
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Young Adult