Indian Journal of Dental Research

: 2009  |  Volume : 20  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 463--465

Evaluation of oral health awareness in parents of preschool children

Bhavneet Kaur 
 Department of Pediatric and Preventive Dentistry, Institute of Dental Sciences, Sehora, Jammu, India

Correspondence Address:
Bhavneet Kaur
Department of Pediatric and Preventive Dentistry, Institute of Dental Sciences, Sehora, Jammu


Objectives: Little data are available on the initiative shown by the parents for dental health care of their preschool children in India. This study was conducted to evaluate the status of oral health awareness in parents of preschool children. Materials and Methods: A total of 230 preschool children were included in the study and their parents were analyzed for their child dental awareness by holding free dental checkups and interactive meetings with the help of their respective schools. Results and Conclusion: Results revealed that there is a low initiation of the parents when oral health care of small children is concerned; however, an active collective effort of the school and dental team can make awareness program effective.

How to cite this article:
Kaur B. Evaluation of oral health awareness in parents of preschool children.Indian J Dent Res 2009;20:463-465

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Kaur B. Evaluation of oral health awareness in parents of preschool children. Indian J Dent Res [serial online] 2009 [cited 2022 Oct 7 ];20:463-465
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Full Text

Oral health education begins from footsteps of awareness. Growing children need proper guidance for healthy growth, upkeep and hygiene of their teeth. [1],[2],[3],[4] A common misconception that milk teeth of children will exfoliate and there is a less need to seek expert dental advice may lead to various dental problems such as malocclusions, dental caries and periodontal problems. [5],[6],[7],[8],[9]

Efforts have been made where various dental health information programs have been conducted in schools and other settings; [2],[3],[4],[10],[11] however, evaluation of its implementation is an important indication of the success of the education imparted. [12] In the present study, an attempt was made to evaluate oral health awareness in parents of preschool children and the extent of initiation shown by the parents in taking interest to know more about child oral health.

 Materials and Methods

A total of 230 playschool/preschool children were included in the study in which the principals of the respective schools were asked to advise the parents of the children to undergo a free dental checkup of their wards in a school-arranged dental setup during school vacations.

The socioeconomic status and literacy level of the parents were important criteria for selecting the sample population. The schools included were private institutions run in one of the posh localities of the city. The parent's data received from the school revealed that the parents to be well educated and economically stable.

Parents were intimated by the respective schools through a note written in the school diaries of the children. A record was maintained in the dental checkup center during the prescribed time to note the response of the parents.

After an interval of eight months a second method of communication was employed for spreading oral health awareness in the same sample population, changing the venue of free dental check up to within the school premises on one of the working weekends during school hours.

Interaction with each parent regarding dietary habits and oral hygiene practices of the child was done. Collected data were analyzed using chi-square analysis.


Of a total of 230 parents, only 10% responded for the free dental check up in the prescribed dental setup during vacations, and 94% of the parents were present with their wards when the check up was carried out in the school premises during school working hours. This difference was found to be statistically significant (P [1] The parent's support and involvement in child's oral health are important in influencing the dental health of the child. [5] Majority of the surveys reported in the literature are targeted at school going children due to easy accessibility, which is not possible in preschool children. [13],[14] This study highlights increased demand to initiate dental awareness programs aiming at the preschool setups.

The literacy level of the parents is considered important for assessing oral health status as it relates to the level of information about importance of oral health of children in the society. The oral health awareness could have been more in children of dentists, but our data did not classify the children according to their parent's professional backgrounds.

It is generally assumed that a well-educated person is generally more aware of the overall health but in the present study although the target population belonged to the well-educated strata of the society, the lack of awareness regarding the importance of deciduous teeth was evident. In the present study, only 10% of parents responding for the first dental check up program in the dental setup during the vacations explain the lack of information, education and communication about oral health status of children in the Indian society. Indians have been reported to have low level of oral health awareness and practice as compared to Western people. [12] Western children have also been reported to be more aware of regular visits to a dentist because it is initiated either by their parents or dentists. Such an effort on the part of the parents is predominantly missing in Indian children. [12] Similar findings were observed in this study.

Significantly better response of parents have been observed when a collective approach by the school, doctors and parents was adopted by the school inviting the doctor to conduct free dental check up of the school children as well as arranging for a common day for the parents to meet the dentist in the school premises. Although no deliberate attempt was made to compare the two different methods of communication in spreading dental awareness within the target population, it was observed that free dental checkups done in school premises during school working hours in the presence of their respective school authorities were more effective in educating the parents for participation in child oral health care awareness program. This study thus highlights the role of active participation of schools rather than their passive participation in spreading dental awareness in preschool children [Table 1].

Attainment of good oral health is based on awareness of good dietary habits and oral hygiene practices. [2],[3],[9],[10],[11],[12] The need for making parents aware of the brushing methods and importance of preventive measures for the children via school dental programs have been reported in the literature. [1],[15],[16] In the present study when the awareness was assessed in all 94% parents attending school dental program it was observed that majority of the parents did not know the recommended oral hygiene maintenance procedures for children. It was also observed that all parents needed education on importance of regular dental visits, dietary habits and oral hygiene procedures in young children. This finding is in accordance to other studies who stress on importance of influencing parents to achieve oral health of children. [4],[6],[8],[13],[14]

This study initiates a thought-provoking response for dental health educators who carry out various dental camps for oral health awareness targeting different sample population in different areas. This study stresses on the importance of reassessing the impact and outcome of the dental health programs on the target population. When our sample population was assessed for the impact of free dental check up program arranged for them, a poor outcome was observed, with only 10% of parents responding; however, modification of the approach was effective, with 94% of parents participating.

The present study also emphasizes that the parent's responsibility toward their child's oral health is directly related to a collective approach of the school and doctors. Significantly, it was also observed that the parents preferred to participate in dental health program conducted in the schools than the option of visiting dental setup at their convenience during school vacations.


There is a low level of dental awareness and initiation for dental visits in parents of preschool children in Indian society. This study sheds light on a new dimension of significant role of pedodontic triangle in organizing dental camps in preschool going children. Active participation rather than passive participation of schools in spreading dental awareness among preschool children and their parents was found to be statistically significant. Thus, this study initiates a thought-provoking response from dental health educators who carry out dental camps in different setups and in different populations. The present study also emphasizes the need to initiate more dental awareness programs for parents and their children at the preschool setups to assess as well as to spread the oral health awareness in the Indian society.


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