Parental perspectives on preterm children's oral health behaviour and experience of dental care during preschool and early school years

Int J Paediatr Dent. 2009 Jul;19(4):243-50. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-263X.2009.00978.x.


Background: Children born preterm (PT) have medical conditions and impairments that may affect their oral health. Hypothesis. Our hypothesis for the study was that PT children display more dental behaviour management problems (BMPs) and less favourable oral health behaviour than controls (C).

Methods: Parents of 153 PT children and 153 C children were interviewed regarding the children's oral health behaviour and experience of dental care on two occasions, 2 years apart. The interviews concerned the preschool period and the early school years, respectively.

Results: BMPs were more common in PT children of preschool age, but not during the early school years. Regarding oral health behaviour, there were no differences between the groups, except that PT children had more problems with toothbrushing than C children in the preschool period, in spite of the fact that the PT group reported more medical health problems and more anxious behaviour and indications of cognitive problems than the C group.

Conclusions: Children born PT exhibit several risk factors for both BMP and impaired oral health. It is essential that this group of patients is identified early and receives special attention from the dental services.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child Behavior / psychology*
  • Child Behavior Disorders / psychology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Dental Care for Children / psychology
  • Dental Care for Disabled / psychology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature / psychology
  • Male
  • Matched-Pair Analysis
  • Oral Health*
  • Oral Hygiene / psychology*
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Reference Values