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Education can influence children’s oral health

A study has found that the education level of parents could influence the quality of their child’s oral health.

Research has long linked low-income areas to poor oral health, but this new analysis considers the education level.

A team from Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) and the University of Washington investigated how a parent or other caregiver’s education level and dental habits can affect children’s dental health.

Using data from a dental study carried out in 2007 by CWRU, the researchers identified 423 low-income African-American kindergarteners and their caregivers. With this information, they tested a hypothesis that a caregiver’s education level influences how often they and their children brush their teeth and visit the dentist.

They found that parents who finished high school were 1.76 times more likely to visit the dentist, compared with those who did not reach this level of education. In addition, children whose caregivers who achieved high school diplomas were nearly six times more likely to visit the dentist routinely.

This had a knock-on impact on their oral health. According to the findings, young people who visited the dentist regularly had about a quarter of the untreated cavities as those who did not.

After their analysis, the team concluded that education level of caregivers was directly associated with about a third fewer untreated decayed teeth, and 28 per cent fewer decayed or filled teeth among the children they cared for.

The findings were reported in the Caries Research article, “Caregiver’s Education Level and Children Dental Caries in African Americans: A Path Analytic Study”. They confirm that education of parents can play an essential role in ensuring children have sound oral health.

As a result of their research, the team hope to encourage parents to become better oral health role models for their children. For dental surgeries in low-income areas, or with a diverse range of patients, it may pay to consider using educational tools in your marketing resources.

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