Oral Health Promotion in Children to Age Five

Monday, July 11, 2011: 2:05 PM

Marlene Huff, PhD, MSN, RN1
Diana Biordi, PhD, MSN, RN, FAAN1
Evelyn Taylor, MS, RD, LD2
Marianne Norris, MSN, CPNP3
Marguerite DiMarco, PhD, MSN, CPNP3
Deborah Bradshaw, MS, RD2
Sherrey Thacker, MS, RN2
Peter Leahy, PhD4
(1)College of Nursing, The University of Akron, Akron, OH
(2)Nutrition, The University of Akron, Akron, OH
(3)Nursing, The University of Akron, Akron, OH
(4)Health and Social Policy Institute, The University of Akron, Akron, OH

Learning Objective 1: Describe an interdisciplinary approach to oral health promotion.

Learning Objective 2: Describe one health care delivery method for fluoride varnish application.


Establishing good oral health practices early in life and preserving tooth integrity are goals of a research project implemented at 2 WIC sites by an interdisciplinary health care team. Caries remains the most common chronic childhood disease. Risk of childhood carries is greatest for poor and minority children in which disease is largely untreated because of barriers to care. The move toward evidence-based practice has added momentum to the goal of translating the newest science on caries into practice. The focus of this research was prevention of cavity formation through proper diet, use of fluoride in water, in toothpaste, and fluoride varnishes. Motivational interviewing was used to support behavioral changes in mothers to reduce colonization of cariogenic bacteria, improve diet, and implement oral hygiene practices.

Design: This pilot study used a descriptive research design to answer the research questions: 1) What is the present condition of teeth in children 0-5 who are enrolled in a WIC program? 2) What dietary practices are being used that promote development of cavity formation? 3) How receptive are mothers and children to fluoride varnish?

Methods: A purposive sample of mothers and children who enrolled in a WIC clinic participated in the study. Fluoride varnish was applied to the child’s teeth following a brief description of the benefits of the varnish. Mothers and children were taught appropriate methods of cavity prevention.

Results: Oral assessments were completed for 632 children, 119 (18.8%) of those children had visible lesions on their teeth or had discolored teeth; 128 (20.3%) drank sugary juices.

Conclusion: The process of educating mothers and children about oral health and hygiene, and application of fluoride varnish to teeth in an interdisciplinary collaborative relationship with WIC demonstrates promise for the implementation of similar programs to promote good oral health.