Acta Med Croatica. 2016 Sep;70(3):165-71.
[Article in Croatian]


Responsible health behavior plays an important role in every individual. Oral health quality results from the level of information available, attitudes, habits and nutrition. Family is the most important environment where children can acquire knowledge, attitudes and habits related to oral health. The aim of the study was to compare the habits of parents and children related to their oral health, and to conclude how parental behavior influences oral health of their children. The study included 101 parent-child pairs (age 11-15 years), their knowledge and behavior according to their oral hygiene, fluoro-prophylaxis and nutrition assessed by anonymous questionnaire. Oral health of parents was estimated according to their tooth loss and compensation, while oral health of children was assessed by dental examination. A total of 101 child-parent pairs were included. Most children were excellent pupils (43.56%). In the group of parents, most participants were mothers (73.27%). Most parents had high school education (65.35%) and were employed (61.62%), and most perceived themselves to be living with average financial situation (86%). A comparable proportion of parents (95%) and children (87%) believed that it was necessary to wash teeth at least twice a day (p=0.125) and most of them thought it necessary to brush teeth for 1-3 minutes (57% of children and 57.43% of parents; p=0.599). The majority of children (56%) and parents (72%) considered it necessary to use dental floss with a toothbrush and toothpaste (p=0.065), while 63% of children and 71.72% of parents believed that toothpaste contained fluoride (p=0.156). Most of the parents (72.3%) and children (65.35%) brushed teeth in the morning and at bedtime (p=0.167) for 1-3 minutes (p=0.098). About 30% of parents and children used the handler for brushing teeth (p=1). Most children (86.32%) and parents (92.1%) had 3-5 meals a day (p=0.181), and 80% of them had their teeth examined by a dentist the year before (p=0.658). The children believing that teeth should be brushed only in the morning have a 3.38-fold greater chance to develop tooth disorders (DMFT >0; p=0.004). Those that do not know that caries and periodontal diseases can be prevented have a 26.3-fold greater chance to develop caries compared to those who are aware of it. Children of parents who only brush their teeth in the morning have a 25 times higher chance of developing CEP >0 as compared with those that brush their teeth after each meal (p=0.016). Children of parents who give them money to buy snacks are 2.9 times more likely to develop CEP >0 (p=0.01) compared to children without money for snack. Children of parents who feel that their health is not good have 3.9 times higher chance of developing CEP >0 as compared to those whose parents think they have a neat bite (p=0.017). Oral hygiene in Croatia is still not at a level of the standards in Western countries. Ignorance about oral hygiene and irresponsible health behavior are the main causes of the poor condition of the teeth. Results of this study showed the close relationship between family attitudes about oral hygiene, as children follow their parents’ habits and behavior. In conclusion, by educating parents, we influence their children’s behavior and knowledge about oral health, and this is the way that health workers should plan interventions to prevent oral diseases.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Croatia
  • Dental Caries / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oral Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Oral Hygiene / statistics & numerical data*
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Parents*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Toothbrushing / statistics & numerical data