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J Public Health Dent. 2012 Summer;72(3):252-60. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-7325.2012.00332.x. Epub 2012 Apr 16.

Caregiver acceptability and preferences for preventive dental treatments for young African-American children.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), San Francisco, CA 94143-0503, USA.


Our prior research focused on parental treatment acceptability (TA) and treatment preferences (TPs) for preventive dental treatments for young Hispanic children. We adapted the interview for administration to parents of young African-American children.


In a sample of African-American parents, determine parental TA and TP for five dental treatments to prevent early childhood caries.


Interviewed 48 parents/caregivers of African-American children attending Head Start, assessing TA and TP for three treatments for children: toothbrushing (TB) with fluoride toothpaste, fluoride varnish (FV), and xylitol in food (XF); and two treatments for mothers: xylitol gum (XG) and chlorhexidine (CHX) rinse. The interview included verbal information, illustrated treatment cards, photos/video clips, and samples. Parents provided TA of each treatment (one to five scale), TP between each of 10 pairs of the five treatments, and open-ended reasons for their preferences. TPs were summed (zero to four) to create overall preference.


All treatments were acceptable (means 4.4-4.9). TB was more acceptable than FV and XF (P < 0.05). Summed TP revealed a strong preference for TB (mean 3.1) above other treatments (all P < 0.01). Primary reasons for preferring TB were the following: promotes healthy habits; child focused; and effectiveness.


All treatments were acceptable, however, parents/guardians strongly preferred TB. Parents' emphasis on healthy habits and child-focused treatment supports efforts for oral health education programs in early childhood settings. Some parents expressed concerns about FV, XF, and CHX. Results may be useful in planning prevention programs for young children in African-American communities.

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