Urban Mexican-American mothers' beliefs about caries etiology in children

Department of Preventive & Restorative Dental Sciences and Center to Address Disparities in Children's Oral Health, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA.
Community Dentistry And Oral Epidemiology (Impact Factor: 1.94). 02/2010; 38(3). DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0528.2009.00528.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Objectives: Caries is a severe condition which disproportionately affects Latino children in the US. This study sought contextual understanding of urban, low-income Mexican-American mothers' beliefs, perceptions, knowledge and behavior surrounding causes of caries. Methods: In urban San Jose, CA, a qualitative study was conducted with a convenience sample of Mexican-American mothers of young children about their beliefs and knowledge about the causes of caries. Audio-taped in-depth interviews with open-ended questions, primarily in Spanish, were translated to English and then transcribed verbatim. Texts were independently read and thematically analyzed by two researchers. Results: Even while expressing uncertainty, all 48 mothers mentioned specific causes of caries, most frequently citing candy or juice consumption (85%), poor oral hygiene (65%) and use of the bottle (52%). Mothers rarely recognized cariogenic foods beyond candy, did not know or perform recommended oral hygiene routines, and demonstrated confusion and uncertainty about exactly how baby bottles are detrimental to teeth. Nearly half of these mothers also mentioned secondary cavity causes, such as genetics, lack of calcium, not going to the dentist or lack of fluoride. Mothers did not mention the role of bacteria. While mothers recognized that oral hygiene can counteract the detrimental effects of candy consumption, they did not recognize its beneficial effects in other contexts. Nor did they know about other preventive activities. Conclusions: Mothers recognized the three major important factors causing caries: sugar consumption, poor oral hygiene and bottle use. However, their knowledge is limited in depth and specificity which restricts development of caries prevention behaviors. More comprehensive education is needed, including about caries prevention (oral hygiene) behaviors, which could lead to an increased sense of self-efficacy with respect to their children's oral health.

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