Introduction: Parents are directly responsible for the dental health of their offspring and can play an important role in preventing oral diseases in children.
Objective: The aim of this study was to assess knowledge and practice of mothers of young children from the area of Bialystok, Poland, on the prevention of tooth caries.
Method: 140 mothers of 3-4 year old children took part in an anonymous voluntary survey. The questionnaire used in the survey related to the knowledge of principles of dental caries prevention, the sources from which mothers obtain their knowledge and the methods of implementing oral health behavior.
Results: In the survey, 95.7% of mothers knew about the importance of regular removal of dental plaque by brushing teeth, 85.7% knew of the role of fluoride-containing toothpaste and 82.8% indicated avoiding the consumption of sweets. They were also aware that oral health required regular dental visits (89.2%). Most of them (87%) knew that deciduous teeth should be treated as permanent ones, but only 65.7% were convinced that a direct relationship of the condition of deciduous and permanent dentition exists. The survey revealed a discrepancy between the knowledge of principles of dental caries prevention and their implementation in everyday life among mothers of young children from Bialystok, Poland. There was a large percentage of 3-4 year old children who brushed their teeth 1-3 times a week (15%) or less frequently (3.6%). In the sample, 10% of 3-4 year old children visited a dentist for the last time a year ago, and another 42.8% had never been on such a visit.
Conclusion: Mothers in Bialystok, Poland, had basic knowledge of caries prevention. However, their theoretical knowledge has been not fully reflected in the way they cared for their children's teeth.