Dental caries is one of the most prevalent chronic childhood diseases affecting many people worldwide. Many people do not recognize the early signs of dental caries or its causes, which is crucial for the prevention and early intervention of the disease and consequently less-invasive and cheaper treatment options.
This study aimed to evaluate the perspectives of parents about the meaning, causes, and early signs of dental caries, the association of tooth discoloration with decay, and the effect of different socio-demographic variables on the knowledge of patients regarding caries.
Questionnaires were distributed to parents of primary school children in the region of Madinah, Saudi Arabia. Meaning of dental caries, early signs, causes of tooth discoloration related to decay, and the effect of different socio-demographic variables were calculated. Multiple linear regression analysis was carried out to identify significant predictor variables associated with caries knowledge scores.
There was a total of 2690 respondents. The majority had average caries knowledge scores. Lighter shades of tooth discoloration were reported to be associated with stains and warranted home care only, while darker shades were associated with caries and yielded a necessity for a visit to the dentist. Different socio-demographic variables had an effect on the caries knowledge of the parents.
There is a need for increased knowledge about the early signs of dental caries among parents. Delayed recognition of signs of dental caries has a detrimental effect on the teeth of children and leads to seeking dental care at the later stages of the disease process. Community-oriented programs are fundamental for improving caries knowledge, its clinical presentations starting from its early signs, causes, and prevention.
Keywords: Dentistry, Paediatric dentistry, Dental caries, Tooth discoloration, Socio-demographics, Prevention, Oral health, Primary school children.