The influence of mothers’ oral health behaviour and perception
thereof on the dental health of their children
Minh Son Nguyen
Thuy Trang Nguyen
Bui Bao Tien Nguyen
Received: 30 January 2018 /Accepted: 5 April 2018 / Published online: 26 April 2018
European Association for Predictive, Preventive and Personalised Medicine (EPMA) 2018
Objective The study aims to investigate how mothers’ oral health behaviour and perception thereof influence the dental health in
Methods A total of 556 Vietnamese mother–child pairs participated in the current study. Mothers self-reported their oral status
and oral health behaviour and perception. Dental caries of the children were examined using the index of decayed, missing, and
filled teeth. The Dental Anxiety Scale instrument was used to assess the dental anxiety level in mothers and children.
Results Among mothers, 41.3% had gingival bleeding, 40% perceived their dentition and gingival status to be at a good level,
68% brushed their teeth more than twice a day, and 17% had never visited a dentist. Mothers’ oral health behaviour and their
perception thereof were positively correlated with their frequency of dental visits (r =(0.105–0.221), p < 0.001) and negatively
correlated with dental anxiety (r =(− 0.149– − 0.105), p <0.05).
Caries-free children were positively correlated with mothers having more than 20 teeth (r =0.085,p < 0.05). Positive corre-
lations between mothers and children were found in terms of frequency of fresh fruits consumption (r =0.090,p <0.05),drinking
sweet beverages (r =0.072,p < 0.05), and dental anxiety (r =0.183,p <0.001).
Conclusions Maternal oral health was significantly associated with dental health of their children. Not only did maternal dental
anxiety influence oral health of mothers but it was also a concomitant factor in the development of children’s dental anxiety. The
education programme on mothers’ oral health-related knowledge can be a target for improvement of the oral health of mothers
Predictive preventive personalised medicine
Prediction of high-risk caries
Prevention of dental caries
Oral behaviour and perception
Oral healthcare systems have made efforts to achieve caries-
free status in children in many countries. Caring for children’s
health is usually the task of mothers, and besides that, mater-
nal factors can influence the oral health of children by sharing
genetic and environmental factors in the course of daily activ-
ities. Therefore, maternal oral health knowledge, behaviour,
and perception are significant for preventing dental diseases in
Children learn health behaviours from their parents. Those
who brush their teeth more than twice a day often live in
families that have high awareness with regard to oral
healthcare [5, 6], whereas children of mothers with irregular
tooth brushing were at twice the risk of dental caries .
Several risk factors for dental caries can be transmitted be-
tween family members. Children are most likely to develop
caries if Streptococcus Mutans is acquired at an early age from
their mother [8–11]. It also has been shown that dental fear
and anxiety are hereditary; maternal dental fear can lead to
avoiding visits to the dentist and ignoring routine dental
checkups for their children [12, 13].
Increase in dental caries has been attributed to the accumu-
lation of biological risk factors in early childhood [14, 15].
This can include the caregiving experience from mothers.
* Minh Son Nguyen
Institute of Dentistry, University of Tartu, Raekoja plats 6,
51003 Tartu, Estonia
Danang University of Medical Technology and Pharmacy, 99 Hung
Vuong, Danang, Vietnam
EPMA Journal (2018) 9:187–193