Journal of Mahatma Gandhi University of Medical Sciences and Technology
Volume 4 | Issue 3 | Year 2019

Influence of Maternal Oral Health Knowledge and Practices on the Child’s Oral Health

Renuka P Chinchalkar1, Nikhil Marwah2, Thejavinuo3, Shavan Kumar Yadav4

1–4Department of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry, Mahatma Gandhi Dental College and Hospital, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India

Corresponding Author: Renuka P Chinchalkar, Department of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry, Mahatma Gandhi Dental College and Hospital, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India, Phone: +91 8600778359, e-mail: r1234chinchalkar@gmail.com

How to cite this article Chinchalkar RP, Marwah N, Thejavinuo, et al. Influence of Maternal Oral Health Knowledge and Practices on the Child’s Oral Health. J Mahatma Gandhi Univ Med Sci Tech 2019;4(3):64–67.

Source of support: Nil

Conflict of interest: None


Introduction: Children younger than 7 years of age spend most of their time with parents and guardians, especially mothers. Maternal oral health knowledge, belief, and attitudes influence the oral health maintenance, dietary habits, and healthy behavior of their children. The aim of this study was to assess the impact of mother’s oral healthcare knowledge on the oral health status of their child.

Materials and methods: A total of 100 mothers and children visiting the department of pedodontics and preventive dentistry were randomly selected. A questionnaire, including parent’s name, age, literacy levels, socioeconomic status, dietary practices, and oral hygiene practices, was designed to assess the knowledge of the mothers regarding oral health of themselves and their child. Later the child’s oral health status was examined.

Results and conclusion: The results were statistically analyzed, and it was concluded that there is a significant influence of mother’s oral health knowledge and practices on the child’s oral health.

Keywords: Children, Habits, Mother, Oral health..


A major role has been played by parents in imparting information and encouragement to their children for healthy lives.1 Their attitudes have notable influence on the children’s oral health and overall health.2 Most of the behavioral habits are adopted by children at home, especially mothers being the chief mentor for behavior.3 Children younger than 7 years mostly spend their time with parents and guardians, especially mothers. Children’s oral health maintenance and outcomes are greatly influenced by their parents. Children imitate their parents who are available and who provide valued role models for oral healthcare practices.4

The positive attitude of parents toward oral health and dentists leads to better oral health of their children. Implementation of effective disease preventive strategies needs basic knowledge of caries causing factors, importance of deciduous teeth, and oral hygiene maintenance.5 If these habits are taught in early childhood, they are inculcated into the child’s daily practice and need only positive reinforcements later.4 Despite the change in roles and responsibilities within the family, the mother stills plays an important role in child’s oral health habits and condition.6 Teaching the mother about the child’s oral hygiene, the practices, and basic knowledge will reduce the prevalence of dental and oral diseases substantially.7


This present study was carried out in a department of pedodontics and preventive dentistry, Jaipur city of Rajasthan. The aim was to assess the influence of mother’s oral healthcare knowledge on the oral health status of their child. Children in the age-group of 3–7 years were randomly selected from the study. A total of 100 mothers were required to fill the questionnaire and 100 children to be screened for OHI’s index.

A questionnaire was prepared to assess the oral hygiene knowledge and practice of mothers. Questionnaire consisted of 10 closed-ended questions. First part was demographic information, whereas second part was questions related to oral hygiene knowledge and oral hygiene practices of maternal mothers. Knowledge was measured by giving scores to their answers. Scoring was done on the basis of good, average, and poor scores. The exam was conducted by using 21 questions and hence

After the questionnaire was filled by the mothers, their children were screened for oral hygiene index. The scores were noted down.

The Questionnaire was as follows:


The study group comprised of total 100 mothers and their respective 100 children.

Distribution of mothers according to their oral hygiene knowledge score (Fig. 1)

Knowledge scoreNumber of mothersPercentage
0–7 (poor knowledge)1111
8–14 (average knowledge)7373
15–22 (good knowledge)1616

The data obtained were analyzed by using SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences SPSS Inc., IBM, INDIA) version 20.0 for windows. Mean and standard deviation (SD) were calculated for each clinical parameter. One-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) test was used for evaluation of the association between maternal mothers’ oral hygiene knowledge, practices, and oral hygiene status of their children. Independent t test was used to find the impact of mothers’ oral hygiene practices on oral hygiene status of their children. Significance for all statistical tests was predetermined at a p value ≤ 0.05.

Children’s oral hygiene status in relation to mother’s oral hygiene knowledge

Mother’s knowledgeNumber of mothersOHIS ± SD (children)F valuep value
Good1617.58 ± 2.9853.27<0.0001*
Average739.84 ± 4.02
Poor113.46 ± 1.12

* Significant when p value <0.05

The above table depicts the correlation between mother’s oral hygiene knowledge and oral hygiene status of their children. One-way ANOVA was applied to determine the correlation between maternal mothers’ oral hygiene knowledge and oral hygiene status of their children. It was found that maternal mothers’ oral hygiene knowledge had a significant correlation with oral hygiene status of their children (p value = <0.0001). On further analysis by post hoc Tukey test, it was found that there was a statistically significant difference in mean OHI-S score (3.46) of children whose mothers had poor oral hygiene knowledge when compared to mean OHI-S score (17.58) of children whose mothers had good hygiene knowledge.

Fig. 1: Demographic information basis on good, average, poor candidates


Oral health knowledge of mothers/guardians has an influence over the oral health of children as these habits are established during infancy and maintained throughout childhood. Mothers play an important function as role models for their children.5 A good understanding of parental knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and awareness regarding oral health, habits, and hygiene is essential for the effective implementation of oral health promotion efforts aimed at improving the dental health of preschool children.8

A majority of mothers had knowledge regarding sugar intake, 63% knew that excessive sugar causes dental caries which was in according to studies by Shetty et al., Suresh et al., Kumar et al., and Linn et al.5,810 Only 49% of mothers had knew that prolonged bottle feeding will cause caries. In studies done by Shetty et al. and Kumar et al., the percentage of mothers was higher.8,9 In all, 26% mothers believed that spoon sharing between child and mother will cause dental caries, while 74% mothers had no knowledge regarding it. This was in contradiction to Shetty et al. and was in accordance with Chhabra and Chhabra.8,11

Majority of the mothers had poor knowledge regarding oral hygiene habits of self except for the quantity of toothpaste to be used. The results of study by Shetty et al. were much higher than the present study.8 When it came to brushing habits of the child, there was equal response for brushing once or twice a day. Only 38% of the mothers knew of availability of different toothpaste for children. While 52% of the children brushed their teeth sadly. In all, 62% of the mothers knew that a small sized toothbrush is used for children. The poor knowledge of mothers regarding their own brushing habits had an impact on the brushing habits of their children.

In all, 47% of mothers believed that cleaning the oral cavity before tooth eruption is essential, while 37% of the mothers had no knowledge over it. This was line with studies by Suresh et al. and Shetty et al.5,8

Elders in the family were the primary source of information for 48% of the mothers, while only 30% of them got information from the dentist. Studies by Shetty et al. and Chhabra and Chhabra also showed higher dependence of mothers on elders for information.8,11 The children whose parents ignored the importance of primary teeth or paid less attention toward decay in these teeth were more susceptible to early childhood caries.8

There were limitations to the study, as the study was done on the outskirts of the city; hence, the literacy rate was mixed. Studies with children and parents of rural areas are advised as it will increase awareness, knowledge, and prevention of oral diseases and inculcate good hygiene practices among the rural areas. Habits developed during childhood form a basic foundation for better oral health practices and motivates for regular dental checkup.


Based on the findings of this survey, mothers knowledge, practices, and awareness about oral health is important and has an impact on the child’s oral health. Preventive strategies, importance of deciduous teeth, and education of oral hygiene practices should be given importance and programs should be conducted for parents.


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