The dental health of preschool children has extensive implications on the oral health of the individual as he grows into an adult. Parents/guardians of preschool children play a central role in enforcing proper oral hygiene and preventive regime in these children.
The oral health care provided by the parents to the pre-school children is of crucial importance here as this determines not only the current oral health status of the child but also lays the backbone of attitudes and practices that a child adopts in this age which he carries over in his or her adulthood. Improvement in children’s oral health depends on parent’s awareness and knowledge. It is essential to start basic good oral health habits from childhood so that the important dental norms are formed and then maintained into future. Family background plays an important role in adapting oral hygiene practices.  Oral health behaviors vary between boys and girls, and it is generally believed that girls have better COHB than boys. [4,5]
Dental caries is a multifactorial disease, with many risk factors contributing to their initiation and progression.
Early childhood caries (ECC) is a term used to describe dental caries in children aged 6 years old. Oral streptococci are considered to be the main etiological agent of tooth decay in children. The risk factors can be categorized as biological, environmental or socio-behavioral . In preschoolers, high consumption of sucrose, sweet drinks, high sugar intake between meals, and frequent snacking have all been associated with dental caries [7,8]. Additionally, the quality of a child’s oral hygiene practices and the parents’ ability to withhold cariogenic snacks are also factors associated with dental caries [6,9]. Some studies have found an association between tooth-brushing and lower caries prevalence, although the findings are inconsistent. [8,10,11] Moreover, socioeconomic factors such as income, education level and family size impact disease prevalence. [12,13]
Primary teeth play an important role in basic life functions such as speech, phonetics, and eating. The management of deciduous teeth is not considered a primary concern in most of the population. The most increasing problem nowadays is the increase in caries risk referred to as early childhood caries. Further, the treatment of primary teeth is not considered important as it is believed that primary teeth will shed as the child grows, without having an effect on permanent dentition.
Dental caries in children is rapidly increasing compared to that seen in permanent teeth. In early childhood caries, there is an aggressive spread of dental caries most commonly affecting the upper anterior teeth as they are the first teeth to erupt. An increase in dental caries increases the pain experienced by the child, and eventually decreases the intake of food, thereby decreasing the essential minerals and vitamins leading to malnutrition. Early childhood caries is commonly seen in bottle-feeding children overnight because of the increase in sucrose content attacking the tooth surface, thereby increasing caries incidence.
Loss of anterior teeth in children eventually results in speech development and lack of confidence due to peer influence. The space present in the primary dentition due to early extraction must be maintained to prevent unorganized eruption of the permanent teeth. Improper maintenance of space in primary dentition leads to lack of space for eruption of the permanent teeth, leading to crowding and impaction.
Poor oral habits include a wide spectrum of habits including, thumb sucking, finger sucking, blanket sucking, tongue sucking, soother/pacifier use, lip sucking, lip licking, mouth breathing, and nail biting, among others.
These habits can alter the normal muscle balance in the face, resulting in an orofacial myofunctional disorder, which can have a negative impact on facial growth. Thumb sucking is the most recognized oral habit that is widely understood to negatively affect the growth of the jaws and the teeth. When the thumb is in the mouth it displaces the tongue so it is not resting fully in the palate. Lip sucking or lip biting can also have effects on the upper anterior causing proclination. Bruxism is a sleep disorder wherein the child bites his teeth during sleep. Habitual mouth breathing is when the child has a habit of breathing from the mouth instead of the nose. This could be because of three reasons – obstruction in the nasal passage, habitual, or anatomical. These habits require an orthodontic treatment approach, with the use of habit breaking appliances.
Finger sucking, blanket sucking, soother use, mouth breathing and other poor oral habits can displace the tongue from its normal resting position in the palate with associated negative affects on facial growth.
This cross-sectional study aimed to assess oral health hygiene and practices of pre-school children (4–6 years old) and its correlation with their parent's education level, child gender and child order between his/her brothers in the family. All data generated or analyzed during this study are included in this published article.