Literature Reviews About Oral Health In Kindergartners: A Literature Review
Oral health presents a significant public health problem that affects every group in the human population. Typically, children with poor oral health tend to show an undesirable oral health outcome throughout their childhood and adulthood because people are constantly susceptible to the development of dental caries during their lifetimes (Kawashita, Kitamura, & Saito, 2011). Past investigations have reported that oral health is linked to numerous health issues. Dental caries in childhood, for instance, increases the risk of comorbid maladies like cardiovascular disease and diabetes (Kawashita et al., 2011). The World Health Organization (2015) recognizes the significant impact of oral health on the wellbeing of individuals and, hence, emphasizes the need to improve the oral health of every population. However, disparities have been observed in the public’s oral health. In particular, children aged below five years have been identified as the most susceptible to poor oral health and, thus, require prior attention (Dallas, Li, Kruse, & McBride-Henry, 2015). The goal of the present investigation, therefore, was to determine the significance of oral health in preschool children. As such, a review of current literature on parents’ intervention in the oral health of kindergartners was conducted. Moreover, the study examined the impacts of conditions associated with oral health on preschoolers.
Parental Intervention in Children’s Oral Health
Mullen et al. (2015) used Twitter, a networking platform, to examine the behaviors and perceptions of parents concerning the oral health of their children. The researchers extracted public tweets “from 14 randomly selected nonconsecutive days in December 2012 and January 2013” (Mullen et al., 2015). 1073 tweets that met the search criterion were also included. The researchers observed that parents made frequent conversations about the oral health of their children on Twitter. Such conversations are a valuable source of data for understanding the perceptions and attitudes of parents towards the oral wellbeing of their children (Mullen et al., 2015). The study also noted that parents were particularly concerned with events related to dental exfoliation, eruption, and grinding. For instance, many tweets described the difficulty of preventing dental caries in preschool children (Mullen et al., 2015). The results of the study highlighted the urgent need for increasing the parents’ understanding of oral health care through prevention education.
Severe dental decay has adverse impacts on a child’s cognitive development, quality of life, body weight, and growth. Moreover, the effects often extend to the child’s family and the community, as well as the local healthcare system. Eating patterns, dietary practices, and other health behavioral factors have been shown to influence oral diseases’ development during childhood (Arrow, Raheb, & Miller, 2013). Usually, the child’s caregiver or parent plays a decisive role in teaching the child to adopt protective oral care behaviors. The feeding practices employed by parents also influence a child’s eating behaviors significantly. Amin, Nyachhyon, Elyasi, and Al-Nuaimi (2014) evaluated the effect of a training program on the behavioral control, attitude, and knowledge of parents regarding the oral health of their children. The participants were African parents who had immigrated to Canada and resided in the country for not more than a decade. Bilingual social workers and a professional dentist conducted “a one-time oral health education workshop” that included hands-on and audio/visual components (Amin et al., 2014). The hypothesis of planned behavior was used to develop a questionnaire for evaluating the workshop’s impact on the parents. 105 mothers, who had arrived in Canada mainly as refugees with less than high school didactics, participated in the study (Amin et al., 2014). After the workshop, paired t-tests revealed a substantial difference in the mothers’ knowledge of dental caries, benefits of frequent dental visits, and the preventive measures associated with caries. In addition, the parental attitudes regarding their children’s oral health care improved significantly. The parents also made an effort to take children for a dental checkup within 6 months after the completion of the workshop. Amin et al. (2014) concluded that “a one-time hands-on training” ameliorated “parental knowledge, attitude, perceived behavioral control, and intention with respect to their child’s oral health.” However, the researchers noted that the intervention was small and could not ensure a complete change in oral care attitudes. Hence, Amin et al. (2014) recommended the integration of oral health workshops in continuous community initiatives to ensure sustainable and long-term effectiveness of the intervention. The study demonstrated that well-informed parents can improve the oral health of kindergartners.
Effects of Conditions Associated with Oral Health on Preschoolers
Traumatic dental injuries and dental caries are typical health conditions that may have psychosocial and physical impacts on preschool children. Therefore, measuring the effect of such conditions on preschoolers can help to assess the life quality of affected children (Sousa et al., 2014). Gomes et al. (2014) conducted a study to evaluate the impacts of such conditions on preschoolers. The researchers’ investigation employed 843 kindergartners from the Brazilian city of Campina Grande. Parents were requested to provide responses to “the Brazilian Early Childhood Oral Health Impact Scale and a questionnaire addressing socio-demographic data” (Gomes et al., 2014). The investigators recorded the parents’ views on their children’s oral health and analyzed the results of clinical exams conducted on the participating kids. Gomes et al. (2014) reported that the occurrence of traumatic dental injuries and dental caries caused negative impacts on the affected children’s quality of life, as well as their families. The adverse effects included persistent pain, irritability, and discomforts linked to the drinking of cold and hot beverages, as well as difficulties associated with eating certain foods. The incidence of dental caries was linked to socio-demographic factors such the parents’ level of education and family income (Gomes et al., 2014). The observation demonstrated the significance of employing socio-demographic information during the provision of various dental services to a given population.
In a related investigation, researchers evaluated the effect of oral maladies on the “oral health-related quality of life (OHRQoL) in population-based sample of Brazilian preschool children” (Scarpelli et al., 2013). Additionally, they identified the role of socio-demographic views of oral health conditions on the quality of life. During the study, an epidemiological examination was conducted at preschools in Belo Horizonte city. The selected sample comprised 1632 five-year-old female and male preschoolers. The participants were selected randomly “using a multi-stage sampling technique and their parents/caregivers” (Scarpelli et al., 2013). A well-calibrated examiner helped to assess the developmental disorders of the enamel, traumatic dental injuries, malocclusion, and dental caries experiences. Caregivers completed “the Brazilian Early Childhood Oral Health Impact Scale (B-ECOHIS),” as well as a socio-demographic information form (Scarpelli et al., 2013). The researchers then carried out adjusted, bivariate, and descriptive regression analyzes. The results of the investigation revealed that dental caries’ experiences provided an exclusive normative criterion with an adverse effect on OHRQoL (Scarpelli et al., 2013). Younger parents and low-income families reported relatively greater adverse impacts on their kids’ quality of life. Lastly, the parents’ perceptions showed a significant link between a poor status of health and a low quality of life in the affected children.
Chronic illnesses often interfere with the ability of kids to achieve academic success. Studies have shown that an increase in a child’s missed school time, due to a chronic illness, can lower the child’s school performance significantly. According to Jackson, Vann, Kotch, Pahel, and Lee (2011), “the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) documented that 1.57 million school days were lost in 1980 as a result of dental problems.” The lost school days may have translated into a significant decrease in the academic performance of the affected children. However, the absence of previous studies on the link between school performance and oral health prompted Jackson et al. (2011) to investigate the relationship. The researchers studied “school days missed for routine dental care versus dental pain or infection” in order to evaluate the link between the status of kids’ oral health and their school performance and attendance (Jackson et al., 2011). The investigators employed “data from the North Carolina Child Health Assessment and Monitoring Program,” as well as a study sample comprising 2183 children (Jackson et al., 2011). They assessed variables such as gender, race, health insurance cover, parental education, oral health condition, academic performance, and school absences. The results demonstrated that children with a relatively poorer status of oral health had a higher likelihood of missing school days, showing poor academic performance, or experiencing dental pain (Jackson et al., 2011). The findings suggested that ameliorating the oral health of children was crucial to improving their educational experiences.
In conclusion, kindergartners with poor oral health tend to show undesirable oral health outcomes throughout their childhood and adulthood. Therefore, oral health is linked directly to children’s quality of life. The reviewed studies demonstrated that parents play a critical role in the oral health of their children. As a result, parents proficient in oral health care can teach their kids to adopt preventive measures and reduce their children’s susceptibility to dental caries and other oral diseases. Since oral health affects the educational experiences of children, preschoolers should be encouraged to adopt appropriate practices of oral health care.
Amin, M., Nyachhyon, P., Elyasi, M., & Al-Nuaimi, M. (2014). Impact of an oral health education workshop on parents’ oral health knowledge, attitude, and perceived behavioral control among African immigrants. Journal of Oral Diseases, 2014. doi: 10.1155/2014/986745
Arrow, P., Raheb, J., & Miller, M. (2013). Brief oral health promotion intervention among parents of young children to reduce early childhood dental decay. BMC Public Health, 13. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-13-245
Dallas, S., Li, J., Kruse, K., & McBride-Henry, K. (2015). A literature review on oral health in preschoolers. Retrieved from http://www.hpa.org.nz/sites/default/files/Literature%20review%20oral%20health.pdf
Gomes, M. C., Pinto-Sarmento, T. C. de A., Costa, E. M. M. de B., Martins, C. C., Granville-Garcia, A. F., & Paiva, S. M. (2014). Impact of oral health conditions on the quality of life of preschool children and their families: a cross-sectional study. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 12, 55. doi: 10.1186/1477-7525-12-55.
Jackson, S. L., Vann, W. F., Kotch, J. B., Pahel, B. T., & Lee, J. Y. (2011). Impact of poor oral health on children’s school attendance and performance. American Journal of Public Health, 101(10), 1900–1906. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2010.200915
Kawashita, Y., Kitamura, M., & Saito, T. (2011). Early childhood caries. International Journal of Dentistry, 2011. doi:10.1155/2011/725320
Mullen, S. A., Gerbert, B., Heaivilin, N., Lin, B., Page, J., & Tsoh, J. Y. (2015). What do parents say about their children’s oral health on Twitter? Journal of Pediatric Dentistry, 3(1), 17-23. doi: 10.4103/2321-6646.151842
Scarpelli, A. C., Paiva, S. M., Viegas, C. M., Carvalho, A. C., Ferreira, F. M., & Pordeus, I. A. (2013). Oral health-related quality of life among Brazilian preschool children. Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology, 41(4), 336-344. doi: 10.1111/cdoe.12022.
Sousa, R. V., Clementino, M. A., Gomes, M. C., Martins, C. C., Granville-Garcia, A. F., & Paiva, S. M. (2014). Malocclusion and quality of life in Brazilian preschoolers. European Journal of Oral Sciences, 122(3), 223-229. doi: 10.1111/eos.12130.
World Health Organization. (2015). Strategies for oral disease prevention and health promotion. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/oral_health/strategies/en/
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