Unbound MEDLINE

Promoting positive health behaviours--'tooth worm' phenomenon and its implications.

Abstract

'Tooth worm' is a traditional belief about the pathogen of dental caries (tooth decay). Nevertheless, in our previous study, parental 'tooth worm' belief was linked to a reduced caries risk of their children.
OBJECTIVES
This study aimed to further characterize the impact of parental 'tooth worm' belief on their children's caries experience and its psychobehavioural mechanisms.
BASIC RESEARCH DESIGN
analytic observational study.
SETTING
Thirteen randomly selected kindergartens in Singapore. Participants: 1,782 preschoolers aged 3-6 years.
METHODS
Each child received an oral examination and microbiological tests. Parents completed a self-administered questionnaire on their socio-demographic background, oral health knowledge/attitude and child's oral health habits.
RESULTS
Multivariate analysis confirmed a reduced chance of 'high caries rate' (number of affected teeth > 2) among children whose parents held the 'tooth worm' belief (Odds Ratio = 0.41; 95% Confidence Interval = 0.19-0.89). With such perception among parents, children brushed their teeth more frequently (p = 0.042). Since no difference in oral hygiene was observed, the health benefit of the "tooth worm" perception may be acquired through the delivery of fluoride (an agent with proven anti-caries effect) during frequent toothbrushing episodes.
CONCLUSIONS
This study revealed a 'tooth worm' phenomenon, indicating that parental 'tooth worm' belief is associated with early establishment of regular toothbrushing habit and reduction of dental caries in children. This phenomenon and its psychobehavioural mechanisms, enriching our understanding of oral health behaviours, have implications for effective health education.

Authors

Gao XL, Hsu CY, Xu YC, Loh T, Koh D, Hwarng HB

Institution

Dental Public Health, Faculty of Dentistry, The University of Hong Kong, Prince Philip Dental Hospital, Hong Kong. gaoxl@hkucc.hku.hk

Source

Community dental health 29:1 2012 Mar pg 55-61

MeSH

Attitude to Health
Cariostatic Agents
Child
Child Behavior
Child, Preschool
Culture
DMF Index
Dental Caries
Dental Plaque Index
Educational Status
Feeding Methods
Fluorides
Food Habits
Health Behavior
Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
Health Promotion
Housing
Humans
Lactobacillus
Medicine, Traditional
Oral Hygiene Index
Parents
Questionnaires
Self Report
Singapore
Social Class
Streptococcus mutans
Toothbrushing

Pub Type(s)

Comparative Study
Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

Language

eng

PubMed ID

22482251