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What Can We Learn from Parents of Caries-Free and Caries-Active Hispanic Children?

  • Author(s): Tiwari, T
  • Rai, NK
  • Wilson, AR
  • Gansky, SA
  • Albino, J
  • et al.

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This study evaluated strength-based motivators within Hispanic families that support the creation of health in their children. A mixed-methods approach was used to understand differences in Hispanic parental factors between caries-free (CF) and caries-active (CA) children.


A cross-sectional survey was conducted with 200 parent-child triads (primary child: between 0 and 6 y; reference child: between 0 and 10 y) recruited from health centers in the Denver Metro area. All the participating children received an oral examination, and the triads were grouped as CF or CA based on the caries status of the primary child. Qualitative data were collected through in-depth individual interviews with the parents. The analysis only involved the primary child. Bivariable analysis were conducted between parent factors (independent variables) and presence or absence of caries (outcome variable). The variables with P < 0.20 in the bivariable analysis were subjected to 2 multivariable logistic regression models. The children in the CF group had mean (SD) age of 2.8 (1.28) y compared to the CA group at 4.0 (1.55) y (P < 0.001). Bivariable analysis demonstrated that parents in the CF group reported higher oral hygiene behavior scores (P = 0.047), perceived fewer barriers (P = 0.009) to accessing preventive dental care, and considered their children more susceptible to cavities (P = 0.001) compared to parents in the CA group. Multivariable model (adjusting for socioeconomic characteristics) demonstrated that parents of CF children perceived high susceptibility to caries for their children (P = 0.040). Multivariable model (adjusting for acculturation) demonstrated an association of parental oral hygiene behavior (P = 0.040) and parent-perceived susceptibility to caries (P = 0.010) with CF child status. Qualitative interviews revealed that parents in the CF group were concerned about their children's higher susceptibility to caries and tried to establish good oral hygiene routines for their children.


The results of this study demonstrated that parental behaviors and health beliefs could be significant determinants of caries status in Hispanic children.

Knowledge transfer statement

Results of this study indicate that parental oral health beliefs and behaviors are significant determinants of caries status in children of Hispanic population. Parental beliefs could motivate them to take action or establish behavior that prevents dental caries in their children. Health care providers and caries prevention efforts can incorporate this information to tailor oral health promotional messaging and approaches to improve the oral health of Hispanic children.

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