Children’s Oral Health and Parents’ Knowledge

Introduction

While the issue of tooth decay in preschool children is prevailing, little research has been done to investigate the relationship between parents’ knowledge of dental caries and kids’ oral health. In their study, Mahat (2017) aimed at examining the connection between the caregivers’ level of awareness about oral health risks and various demographic factors. Their other research question tried to ascertain the knowledge level of preschool children’s parents on the matter. Though the hypothesis is not stated directly, the main focus of the article is the association between a low level of parent’s awareness of tooth decay and a high percentage of preschool children with dental caries. With a topical problem to address, precise research questions, and an easily located problem statement in the introduction, this study provides a sustainable basis for the new research.

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Methods

Ethical Aspects of a Study

Before the research began, an Institutional Review Board of Rutgers University approved the procedure, after which all potential subjects of the experiment signed consent forms in English or Spanish, depending on the language spoken.

Research Design

As noted by Mahat (2017), the research design is descriptive, which explains the reason why the introduction does not include a straightforward hypothesis predicting the relationship between the two variables. The nature of the study is cross-sectional since a sample of subjects has been examined at a specific point in time without repeated observations. With one group only involved in the research, not many threats to the internal validity of the study can be identified. The main menace present is attrition of the participants who did not pass the screening process, leading to a smaller sample than predicted.

Sampling

To create the sample, Mahat (2017) used a stratified sampling design, wherein the participants were chosen according to the three characteristics. Only those adults who lived in Greater Newark who had a preschool child and spoke English or Spanish could participate (Mahat, 2017). The article does not include an additional explanation of possible sample biases or weaknesses.

Data Collection

To collect the data, researchers used a 17-item questionnaire consisting of True or False questions, which would evaluate parental knowledge on tooth decay and identify possible gaps or misconceptions. Similar surveys are incorporated in the related researches by Julihn, Soares, Hjern, and Dahllöf (2018) and Vozza, Capasso, Marrese, Polimeni, and Ottolengh (2017), showing high practicality of the method in this case. At the same time, relying on self-report questionnaires had both advantages and limitations for the study. On the one hand, the survey was administered in daycare or preschool, meaning that participation in the study did not require parents to go to a separate building and deviate from their routine. On the other hand, the fact that people might be in a hurry thus refuses to take part in the experiment was not taken into consideration.

Results

Statistical Analysis

To analyze the data collected, researchers used various methods, including machinery analysis (software SPSS), descriptive statistics, independent t-tests, and Pearson’s correlation coefficient. Usage of multiple types of statistical analysis allowed to conduct a satisfactory examination of the variables to form conclusive comments.

Results

Results of the findings are presented with the help of two tables, along with the data commentary, which includes a summary of the information in the chart and a description of major trends or patterns in the study. Based on the study design and the results, the author made several justifiable correlational inferences, suggesting, the lower level of parent’s education is, the more likely, the child is going to have dental caries (Mahat, 2017). Later research, conducted by Julihn et al. (2018), also supports the outcomes of the study, claiming that the low level of parental awareness may lead up to 75% of children’s tooth decay before the age of 7. As noted by Vozza et al. (2017), despite some parents know about the possible risks associated with oral health, they do not take the hazard seriously. Results of the survey support the findings in Mahat’s article, suggesting that respondents lack knowledge regarding the origin of dental caries, proper oral hygiene, and food eating habits (Vozza et al., 2017). To improve the current situation, nurses and primary medical caregivers need to pay more attention to parental education.

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Discussion

Findings

With several limitations present in the study, the article focuses on the weaknesses of self-reporting, meaning that respondents to the questionnaire could not be entirely objective regarding their level of knowledge on dental caries. Furthermore, since the sample of participants was quite small (87 people only), “findings of the study should not be generalized to all parents of preschool children” (Mahat, 2017, p. 34). However, research conducted by Vozza et al. (2017), who used a much bigger sample for analysis (approximately 73 thousand people), has similar findings, suggesting the reliability of Mahat’s study, despite a small number of respondents. One more limitation that may affect the internal validity of the research is not mentioned, however. The article disregards the existence of any confounding variables, such as the history of dental diseases in the family, assuming that preschool child’s oral health is associated with the level of their parents’ knowledge only. As followed by Julihn et al. (2018), it is not possible to establish causal relationships in the study since there is no access to children’s diet and health care during their first years of life. For a conclusive, causal inference, more factors, including pregnancy, chronic diseases, and a child’s routine, need to be examined.

Clinical Practice

Though based on the results of the original research, the discussion of the findings is backed up by the evidence from previous studies. Both former and current investigations provide enough data to conclude that more effort is required from early healthcare givers in collaboration with the parents to achieve a higher level of awareness on tooth decay. Consequently, Mahat (2017) mentions the study’s indications for future qualitative research on the attitudes of parents toward oral health care. The discussion is finalized by the clinical implication of the inquiry, highlighting the need for nurses and healthcare professionals in the industry to pay close attention to the study’s findings.

Conclusion

Tooth decay in children aged 2-5 is one of the most common problems in dental practices. Since young kids need assistance when taking care of their teeth, it is of utmost importance for the parents to possess both skills and knowledge to provide quality oral health care for their children. Based on the findings of this study and support of two related scholarly articles, a low level of parental knowledge on the matter is associated with a higher risk of dental caries in the preschool age. Though it is not possible to establish cause and effect relationships between these two variables, the aspect of parental education needs to be taken into consideration in further clinical practices.

References

Julihn, A., Soares, F. C., Hjern, A., & Dahllöf, G. (2018). Socioeconomic determinants, maternal health, and caries in young children. JDR Clinical & Translational Research, 3(4), 395 – 404. Web.

Mahat, G. (2017). Parental knowledge about urban preschool children’s oral health risk. Pediatric Nursing, 43(1), 30 – 34. Web.

Vozza, I., Capasso, F., Marrese, E., Polimeni, A., & Ottolenghi, L. (2017). Infant and child oral health risk status correlated to behavioral habits of parents or caregivers: A survey in Central Italy. Journal of International Society of Preventive & Community Dentistry, 7(2), 95 – 99. Web.

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