Children's oral hygiene: healthy mouth, families supervise?.

Carmen Costa, Margarida Pereira, Rui Passadouro, Belarmino Spencer

Abstract


Dental caries results from a complex interaction between the host and environmental factors and it is an important public health issue.To determine the prevalence of dental caries in a school population of six and 12 years old children from Leiria; to establish a relationship between dental caries and related known risk factors; parental dental health care, parental control of their children oral hygiene and to compare our results with the National Dental Care Study of 1999.Descriptive and statistical analysis based on a questionnaire and dental examination.In our sample of 248 children, 43% were six years old and 57% 12 years old; 52% were female and 72% reside in a suburban area. The prevalence of dental caries was 42% (48% for the six year and 33% for the 12 years old groups. Dental caries were more prevalent in males (p = 0, 01) and 25% of these had three or more caries. Analysis of the questionnaire revealed that 87% of children brushed their teeth daily, findings that were unrelated to gender, age or residential area. Of this group, 68% brushed their teeth twice or more daily (p = 0,008). This routine was commenced in 32% of children prior to the age of three and these had less dental caries (p = 0,022). With regard to the children's dietary habits, we found them to be similar in both groups. The children who did not sweeten their milk (23 and 24% of the six and 12 years group, respectively) had fewer dental caries (p = 0,031). Dental treatment was required in 53% of 12 year old group and in 41% of six year old group. Dental caries was also less prevalent in children who also had taken fluoride (p = 0,045). We found a significant statistical relationship between parental and their children's dietary habits (p = 0,000). Parents who brushed their teeth twice daily had children with similar oral hygiene habits and had fewer caries (p = 0,002). Parents who oversee their children's dental care (52%) include the group of parents and children that brush their teeth at least twice daily (p = 0,003).Dental caries was more prevalent in the six year old group with a male predominance. Children who brushed their teeth twice a day had less caries and the 12 year old group had more visits to the dentist. To ensure adequate oral hygiene habits it is important that parents supervise their children' habits.

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