An intervention programme to establish regular toothbrushing: understanding parents' beliefs and motivating children

C.M. Pine, P.M. McGoldrick, G. Burnside, M.M. Curnow, R.K. Chesters, J. Nicholson, E. Huntington

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60 Citations (Scopus)


Aims/Objectives: To determine the benefit of twice daily toothbrushing on newly erupted first permanent molars. To investigate, through the Health Belief Model, how parents' beliefs influence the likelihood of their children brushing twice a day. To identify aspects of a toothbrushing intervention programme that can be used in general dental practice. Design: Randomised controlled trial. Setting: Schools in deprived communities in Scotland. Participants: 461, 5-year-old children. Interventions/methods: Supervised toothbrushing on schooldays with a 1,000ppm chalk-based fluoride toothpaste for two years. A school and home-based incentive scheme including toothbrushing charts, 6-monthly dental examinations and parental questionnaires. Main outcome measures: Caries increment and twice daily toothbrushing. Results: In the control group, children who brushed once a day or less had 64% more caries than those who brushed at least twice a day (P=0.001). In the intervention group this difference in caries was reduced to 16% (P>0.05). The most significant parental belief explaining variation in twice-daily brushing was whether parents feel strongly that there is time to check their child's toothbrushing (P=0.0001). The odds of these parents reporting that their child brushes twice daily are nearly three times greater. 95% of parents felt that toothbrushing charts would be a good way for dentists in practice to encourage children to brush regularly. Conclusions: The benefit of twice daily toothbrushing on caries development in newly erupted first permanent molar teeth is around 50% compared to brushing once a day or less. Parents' beliefs do influence the likelihood of their children brushing twice a day. Key parts of the intervention programme can be used when children attend general dental practice and would be welcomed by parents.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)312-23
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Dental Journal
Issue number6 part 1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2000


  • oral hygiene
  • toothbrushing
  • caries
  • fluoride toothpaste

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