Parent Experiences with Adolescent Oral Health and Dentists by Community
Ortega, Rosa N.
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The purpose of this study was to investigate if parents have ever received any adolescent oral health anticipatory guidance and to assess parents’ comfort with dentists discussing certain topics with parents/adolescents. The study population included parents of adolescents between 13 to 17 years of age from three different community health centers. The three community health centers were Alivio Medical Center, Lawndale Christian Health Center, and Miles Square Health Center. Data collection was performed through anonymous surveys. There were 255 parents who completed the survey; 77 were African American and 177 were Hispanic. Data analysis revealed that out of the sixteen American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) adolescent anticipatory guidance topics; Oral Cancer, Teenage Pregnancy, Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Drug Abuse, and Oral Piercings were the least likely to be discussed by dentists. Significant factors associated with parents having received adolescent anticipatory guidance were race/ethnicity, language, clinic, and having a regular dentist for their adolescent. Based on the ‘Talk Scores’, African American participants, parents that completed the English survey, and parents who reported having a regular dentist for their adolescent had higher ‘Talk Scores’. Among the Hispanic participants, those from Alivio Medical Center had higher ‘Talk Scores’ than those from the two other community health centers. Furthermore, it was found that the parents who participated in our study were comfortable at least 85% of the time with the sixteen AAPD adolescent anticipatory guidance topics. Education was found to be one of the factors that contributed to parents’ increased comfort level. The more educated parents were more comfortable with dentists providing anticipatory guidance to their adolescents. This study reveals that parents are not aware of dentists providing much anticipatory guidance to their adolescents. Better education about the importance of providing adolescent anticipatory guidance is needed for both general dentists and pediatric dentists. Learning more about the barriers that exist for not discussing the “more” sensitive topics with adolescents should be further explored.