Young children’s ideas and practices towards oral health



This qualitative case study aimed to investigate ideas and practices of 72 preschool children in relation to oral health, so that the findings would contribute to design learning environments. Data gathering techniques were structured interview and questionnaire. Most of children seemed to recognize and understand issues about oral health, although their actual behaviours seem to be moderate. Fewer children associated dental caries with sweets and even fewer attributed caries to poor oral hygiene and germs. Overall, preschoolers seem to understand cause and effect issues concerning oral health, facilitating design educational interventions for improving both knowledge and related healthy practices.


Oral health, dental caries, children’s ideas, oral health practices, pre-school education

Full Text:



Adulyanon, S., & Sheiham, A. (1997). Oral impacts on daily performances. In G. D. Slade (Ed.), Measuring oral health and quality of life (pp. 151-160). Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina.

Agouropoulos, A., Gizani, S., Kavvadia, K., Vierrou, A., Gheki, S., & Papagiannouli-Laskaridi, E. (2010). Prevalence and risk factors of caries in preschool children in a region with low socioeconomic status. Paidodontia, 24(2), 53-61. (In Greek).

Al-Omiri, M. K., AlWahadni, A. M., & Saeed, K. N. (2006). Oral health attitudes, knowledge, and behavior among school children in North Jordan. Journal of Dental Education, 70(2), 179-187.

Antunes, L. S., Antunes, L. A. A., & Corvino, M. P. F. (2008). Educative practices and attitudes within the pre-school environment: Evaluating the education professionals. Brazilian Oral Research, 22(4), 340-345.

Boka, V., Trikaliotis, A., & Kotsanos, N. (2013). Dental caries and oral health-related factors in a sample of Greek preschool children. European Archives of Paediatric Dentistry, 14(6), 363-368.

Cappello, M. (2005). Photo interviews: Eliciting data through conversations with children. Field Methods, 17(2), 170-182.

Driver, R., & Oldham, V. (1986). A constructivist approach to curriculum development in Science. Studies in Science Education, 13(1), 105-122.

Easterlin, R. A. (2003). Explaining happiness. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 100(19), 11176-11183.

Gibson, S., & Williams, S. (1999). Dental caries in pre-school children: Associations with social class. Tooth brushing habit and consumption of sugars and sugar-containing foods. Caries Research, 33, 101-113.

Gussy, M. G., Waters, E. G., Walsh, O., & Kilpatrick, N. M. (2006). Early childhood caries: Current evidence for aetiology and prevention. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 42, 37-43.

Hilton, I. V., Stephen, S., Barker, J. C., & Weintraub, J. A. (2007). Cultural factors and children's oral health care: A qualitative study of careers of young children. Community dentistry and Oral Epidemiology, 35(6), 429-438.

Hooley, M., Skouteris, H., Boganin, C., Satur, J., & Kilpatrick, N. (2012). Parental influence and the development of dental caries in children aged 0-6 years: A systematic review of the literature. Journal of Dentistry, 40, 873-885.

Kennev, J. B. (1979). The role and responsibility of schools in affecting dental health status. A potential yet unrealized. Journal of Public Health Dentistry, 39(4), 262-267.

Lian, C. W., Phingb, T. S., Chata, C. S., Shina, B. C., Baharuddina, L. H., & Che’Jalila, Z. B. J. (2010). Oral health knowledge, attitude and practice among secondary school students in Kuching Sarawak. Archives of Orofacial Sciences, 5(1), 9-16.

Littledyke, M. (2004). Primary children's views on science and environmental issues: Examples of environmental cognitive and moral development. Environmental Education Research, 10(2), 217-235.

Maes, L., Master, M., & Honkala, S. (2004). Oral health. In C. Currie, C. Roberts, A. Morgan, R Smith, W. Settertobulte, O. Samdal & V. Barnekow Rasmussen (Eds.), Young people’s health in context. Health Behaviour in school-aged children (HBSC) study (pp. 120-132). Denmark: WHO Publications.

Makuch, A., & Reshke, K. (2001). Playing games in promoting childhood dental health. Patient Education and Counseling, 43, 105-110.

Marthaler, T. M. (2004). Changes in dental caries 1953-2003. Caries Research, 38(3), 173-181.

Okada, M., Kawamura, M., Kaihara, Y., Matsuzaki, Y., Kuwahara, S., Ishidori, H., & Miura, K. (2002). Influence of parents’ oral health behaviour on oral health status of their school children: An exploratory study employing a causal modelling technique. International Journal of Paediatric Dentistry, 12(2), 101-108.

Oulis, C., Theodorou, M., Mastrogiannakis, T., Mamai-Chomata, E., Polychronopoulou, A., & Athanasouli, T. (2009). Oral health status and treatment needs of the Hellenic population. A pathfinder survey-proposals for improvement. Hellenic Stomatological Review, 53, 97-120. (In Greek).

Parkinson, D. D. (2001). Securing trustworthy data from an interview situation with young children: Six integrated interview strategies. Child Study Journal, 31(3), 137-55.

Petersen, P. E. (2003). The World Oral Health Report 2003: Continuous improvement of oral health in the 21st century – the approach of the WHO global oral health programme. Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology, 31(Suppl. 1), 3-24.

Petersen, P. E., Bourgeois, D., Ogawa, H., Estupinan-Day, S., & Ndiaye, C. (2005). The global burden of oral diseases and risks to oral health. Bulletin of World Health Organization, 83, 661-669.

Piko, B. F., & Bak, J. (2006). Children’s perceptions of health and illness: Images and lay concepts in preadolescence. Health Education Research, 21(5), 643-653.

Poutanen, R., Lahti, S., & Hausen, H. (2005). Oral health-related knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs among 11 to 12-year-old Finnish schoolchildren with different oral health behaviors. Acta Odontologica, 63(1), 10-16.

Poutanen, R., Lahti, S., Tolvanen, M., & Hausen, H. (2006). Parental influence on children's oral health-related behaviour. Acta Odontologica, 64(5), 286-292.

Sheiham, A. (2005). Oral health, general health and quality of life. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 83(9), 644-644.

Smyth E., Caamaño F., & Fernández-Riveiro P. (2007). Oral health knowledge, attitudes and practice in 12-year-old schoolchildren. Medicina Oral, Patologia Oral and Cirugia Bucal, 12(8), 614-620.

Tsami, A., Pepelasi, E., Koutsochristou, B., Komboli, M., & Vrotsos, I. (2007). Knowledge, attitude and behavior of parents and elementary school-aged children in oral health, hygiene and periodontal disease: Relation of dependence or not. Paidodontia, 21, 6-15. (In Greek).

von Glaserfeld, E. (1989). Cognition, construction of knowledge, and teaching. Synthese, 80, 121-140.

World Health Organization (WHO). (1994). Oral Health for the 21st century. WHO Publications. Retrieved from

World Health Organization (WHO). (1997). Promoting health through schools. Technical Report series, 870. Retrieved from


View Counter: Abstract | 0 | times, and PDF | 0 | times

Re S M ICT E | ISSN: 1792-3999 (electronic), 1791-261X (print) | Laboratory of Didactics of Sciences, Mathematics and ICT, Department of Educational Sciences and Early Childhood Education - University of Patras.

Pasithee | Library & Information Center | University of Patras