Parental self-efficacy and oral health-related knowledge are associated with parent and child oral health behaviors and self-reported oral health status

Community Dent Oral Epidemiol. 2013 Aug;41(4):345-52. doi: 10.1111/cdoe.12019. Epub 2012 Nov 17.


Objectives: This study sought to advance understanding of the influence of psychosocial factors on oral health by examining how parental self-efficacy (with regard to acting on their child's oral health needs) and oral health knowledge relate to parental and child oral health behaviors and self-rated oral health.

Methods: Parents of children in grades 0/1 and 5/6 (n = 804) and children in grades 5/6 (n = 377, mean age 11.5 ± 1.0, 53.9% female) were recruited from a stratified random sample of 11 primary (elementary) schools. Participants completed surveys capturing psychosocial factors, oral health-related knowledge, and parental attitudes about oral health. Parents also rated their own oral health status and the oral health of their child. Correlations and logistic regression analysis (adjusted for socioeconomic status, child age, and gender) examined associations between psychosocial factors and the outcomes of interest (parent and child behaviors and self-rated oral health status).

Results: Higher parental self-efficacy was associated with more frequent toothbrushing (by parent and child), and more frequent visits to a dental professional. These associations were particularly strong with regard to dental visits for children, with parents with the highest tertile for self-efficacy 4.3 times more likely to report that their child attended a dentist for a checkup at least once a year (95%CI 2.52-7.43); and 3 times more likely to report their child brushing their teeth at least twice a day (Adjusted Odds Ratio 3.04, 95%CI 1.64-5.64) compared with those parents in the lowest tertile for self-efficacy. No associations with oral health knowledge were found when examined by tertile of increasing knowledge.

Conclusions: Oral health self-efficacy and knowledge are potentially modifiable risk factors of oral health outcomes, and these findings suggest that intervening on these factors could help foster positive dental health habits in families.

Keywords: dental health; dental public health; oral disease prevention; self rated oral health status.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Australia
  • Child
  • Child Behavior
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dental Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Oral Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Parents / education
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Self Efficacy*
  • Self Report
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Toothbrushing / statistics & numerical data