Parent’s Perception on the Importance of their Children’s First Dental Visit (A cross-sectional Pilot Study in Malaysia)


Introduction: Understanding parental perceptions about early childhood oral health is important inorder to develop effective preventive measures since parents’ health behaviours and practices usuallyhave a direct influence on their children’s dental health. The aim of this pilot study was to evaluateparental views about the primary teeth, first dental visit, and use of behaviour modification at the time ofa first clinical visit. Materials and Methods: This was a cross-sectional study conducted among parentswho brought their children to the Paediatric Dental Clinic at Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia.Parents completed a close-ended interviewer-administrated questionnaire (n=110). The questionnairehad eleven items addressing knowledge and attitudes towards the importance of primary teeth, effectsof early extractions, and the main reason to visit the dentist for the first time. It also assessed views onappropriate treatment for decayed primary teeth, methods used to prepare children for their dental visit,and the timing of first dental visit. Data were analyzed using descriptive, frequency and Chi-Squareanalysis. Results: Overall, 82.3% of parents recognized the importance of primary teeth. However, only(12.5%) were aware that the first dental examination should be by age 12 months. Regarding treatingprimary teeth with decay, 47.9% thought that these teeth should be restored, whereas 37.5% believedextractions were appropriate. Two-third of parents (67.7%) had agreed to promote behaviourmodification during the first visit if their children had no pain. Conclusion: Many parents realised theimportance of primary teeth, however, lacked the sufficient knowledge on how to appropriately dealwith these teeth with caries and the recommended time for first dental visit. Hence the parents mustreceive appropriate anticipatory guidance and also need to appreciate the benefits of early dental visit tothe oral health and well-being of children.