Purpose: Children of Hispanic seasonal or migrant farmworkers in the United States (US) experience high rates of Early Childhood Caries (ECC) and have high rates of untreated dental caries. The purpose of this study was to explore Hispanic seasonal farmworker caregivers' beliefs and/or perceptions regarding ECC their children's oral health.Methods: A qualitative explanatory model interview approach was used with a purposive sample of Hispanic parents/caregivers, working and residing in Orange and Ulster Counties, New York. The Explanatory Model Interview Catalogue (EMIC) was used as a guide to the semi-structured, recorded interviews conducted in locations selected by the participants. The texts were independently read and thematically analyzed by two researchers.Results: A total of 20 parents/caregivers consented to participate. Six themes were identified for the components of the EMIC and included: etiology: eating candy/sweets (65%); sign/symptoms of decay: tooth color change (50%); pathophysiology: not brushing daily (75%); course of disease/impact on daily life: appearance (40%); impact of caries on child's future health: affects child until adult teeth erupt (25%); treatment for pain: tooth brushing (55%). Over half of the respondents (55%) indicated that getting dental care for their children was a priority.Conclusion: Results from this study showed that Hispanic seasonal farmworkers have a desire to maintain their children's oral health. However, they lacked knowledge in some key concepts related to the disease process and prevention of ECC. Caregivers need additional oral health education with consideration for oral health literacy.
Keywords: Hispanic seasonal farmworkers; caries etiology; early childhood caries; migrant farmworker; oral health beliefs; qualitative research.
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