Association Of Children’s Dental Health Status with Their Parents’ Oral Health Literacy and Family Characteristics

Document Type : Original Article


1 Clinical Research Development Unit, Ghaem Hospital, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran

2 Department of Experimental Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, Montréal, Canada

3 Oral Health Research Center, Health Research Institute, Babol University of Medical Sciences, Babol, Iran

4 Department of Community Medicine, Mashhad Branch, Islamic Azad University, Mashhad, Iran

5 Department of Pediatrics, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran


Background and Objective: Oral health literacy (OHL) is a type of health literacy that specifically focuses on people`s literacy and knowledge about oral health. It has been shown that oral health literacy can be a powerful predictor of people's health, health-related behaviors, and medical outcomes. As parents play a crucial role in their child`s health, in this study we aimed to assess the oral health literacy of the adults and its relation with their children`s dental status.

Materials and Methods: Four hundred parents with their children participated in this cross-sectional study. Two hundred OHL questionnaires were distributed to parents of 3–6-year-old patients referred to pediatric hospitals for any reason. The OHL was assessed in three domains: reading comprehension, numeracy and appropriate decision-making. The score were categorized as inadequate, 0-7; marginal, 8-9, and adequate, 10-15. Then a dentist did the dental examination of their children, and the DMFT (decay-missing-filled teeth) index was calculated. Chi-square, independent sample t-test, Mann-Whitney, and Kruskal-Wallis tests were used for comparative analysis.

Results: 69.2%, 21.2% and 9.6% of the parents had inadequate, marginal and adequate OHL, respectively. The mean DMFT was 4.5±4.47 (median:3) with minimum of 0 and maximum of 17. The mean age of parents and children did not differ between 3 groups of OHL, but DMFT was significantly higher in participant with inadequate OHL (p=0.03). The mean DMFT was also higher in families with greater than four family members(p=0.002). It is shown that the frequency of inadequate OHL was higher among parents with lower education(p=0.002), while the DMFT did not differ in 3 groups of education(p=0.84).

Conclusion: Parents with inadequate OHL was associated with high children’s dental caries. So, conducting oral health education for parents is essential. Holding training classes in health centers can improve the parent’s oral health literacy, and hopefully motivate them to look after their child’s dental health.


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