Objective: This study evaluated relationships between caregiver responses to oral health screening questions and caries in young children.
Methods: Two samples of caregivers answered identical eight-item screening questionnaires about their oral health. One sample included children enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) who were 24 to 42 months of age; the other sample included 3- to 5-year-old children attending a pediatric dental clinic. Using chi-square and relative risk, questionnaire findings were related to children's caries history based on clinical caries exams.
Results: Questions significantly (P < 0.05) related to children's caries in the older sample included caregivers' poorer rating of their oral health, less frequent dental visits, current or recent caries, and history of tooth loss due to caries. However, only questions pertaining to tooth loss were related to caries in the younger sample.
Conclusion: Caregivers' reported loss of teeth due to caries was significantly associated with caries development in their children in both samples, and may be a useful means for early identification of children at high risk.