n African Journal for Physical Health Education, Recreation and Dance - Parents' influence on early childhood caries among their children at a community health centre in Gauteng Province, South Africa : public health intervention for maternal and child health

Supplement 2
  • ISSN : 1117-4315


Early childhood caries (ECC) is a serious oral health problem that has remained unexplored in many developing countries including the Sub-Saharan Africa region, especially among the disadvantaged populations. This study investigates the knowledge, attitudes and practices of parents with regard to ECC affecting their children aged between 1 and 5 years old. A cross-sectional survey design was used involving 299 individuals; where a parent and his/her child were counted as one. The majority of the participants (97%) were the biological parents of the children. About 32% of the parents were under the age of 20 years, and 73% were single. Almost all the parents (91%) had primary level of education. About 87% of the parents did not know that dental caries do affect children who are below the age of 2 years, and that brushing a child's teeth is important for maintaining good oral health (65%). A higher proportion of parents with a caries-free child compare to those parents whose children had caries knew that: "sugar consumption and other cariogenic foods increase caries development" [8%-vs-1%, (p < 0.05)]. In the case of the children, about 60% had dental caries, with a higher prevalence among girls as compared to boys [64% -vs- 56%, (p>0.05)]. Overall, the mean-dmft score among the children was 7.5±4.2, ranging from 1 to 20. Girls had an insignificantly higher mean-dmft score than boys [7.9±3.3 vs 6.9±4.6, (p>0.05)]. Children in the age group of 1 to 2 years old had higher mean-dmft scores than those aged 3 to 5 years old [7.6±4.7 -vs- 7.5±3.9, (p>0.05)]. The findings of this study suggest that good oral health knowledge, practices and perceptions of parents has a positive influence in reducing early childhood caries among their children.

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