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N Z Dent J. 2012 Dec;108(4):129-33.

An exploratory study of pregnant women's knowledge of child oral health care in New Zealand.

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Department of Oral Sciences, University of Otago Faculty of Dentistry, Dunedin, New Zealand.



To be maximally effective, oral health preventive strategies should start at birth. There appear to be few reports on pregnant women's knowledge of oral health care for their developing children.


This exploratory study assessed Dunedin expectant mothers' knowledge of the oral health care of their future children.


A questionnaire was developed to assess expectant mothers' knowledge of child oral health and appropriate prevention strategies. Three public Lead Maternity Carer (LMC) organisations and 30 private individual LMCs were asked to distribute the questionnaire to their clients attending appointments during a one-month period. Questions focused on the mother's knowledge of oral health practices for their future children, including oral hygiene and access to dental care.


Fewer than half of the participants thought they had enough information about their child's oral health needs. One-quarter thought that toothbrushing should not start until after two years of age. The majority thought their child should not be seen by a dental professional until this age, while one-fifth did not think their child should be seen until four years old. Poorer child oral health knowledge was found in first-time mothers, younger women, those from low-SES groups, and those who were not New Zealand (NZ) Europeans.


A substantial number of participants were unaware of how to provide appropriate oral health care for their children despite the available information. This lack of awareness needs to be taken into account when designing oral health promotion strategies for parents of very young children.

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