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J Dent Hyg. 2019 Oct;93(5):6-14.

Influence of a Smartphone Application on the Oral Health Practices and Behaviors of Parents of Preschool Children.


Purpose: Numerous oral health promotion programs are directed at reducing the prevalence of early childhood caries. Smartphone applications (app) may be beneficial in oral health promotion. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of a smartphone app, based on the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB), on the oral health behaviors of the parents of preschoolers.Methods: A two-phase, sequential, embedded mixed methods design explored how the app influenced the attitudes, beliefs, perceived behavioral control, and intentions of parents of preschoolers. Phase 1 was a quasi-experimental, one-group pretest-posttest design. Parents of preschool aged children (n=26) participated in the 4-week intervention. Phase 2 consisted of qualitative interviews with a purposive sample of parents from Phase 1 (n=11).Results: Parents' behavioral intentions or oral health behaviors with their preschoolers did not significantly change from pre- to post-intervention (p>.05). Social norms (SN) and perceived behavioral control (PBC) predicted behavioral intentions pre-intervention and behavioral change post-intervention. Thematic analysis revealed that parents' belief in the importance of establishing oral health habits and brushing reminders and videos delivered via a mobile application supported efforts to form oral health habits.Conclusion: The use of TPB constructs in the development of oral health promotions aimed at parents of preschoolers was partially supported. Intention and behavior were not affected post-intervention, but SN and PBC emerged as significant predictors of intentions and behavior. A dental smartphone app may aid parents to make good oral health habits part of their preschooler's daily routine.


early childhood caries; health behavior theories; health promotion; mobile apps; oral health; smartphone apps

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