Objective: Several parental factors influence children's use of oral health services. Some localized studies have shown that children's dental use patterns correlate positively with those of their parents. The objective of this study was to investigate associations between parents' and children's oral health–seeking behaviors among a representative sample of US children.
Methods: We used the 2007 National Health Interview Survey to analyze a sample of children aged 2 to 17 years, matched with 1 parent. Using logistic regression, we examined associations between parents' and children's use of dental services and deferred dental care because of cost.
Results: The sample included 6107 child–parent pairs. Overall, 77% of children and 64% of parents had a dental visit in the previous 12 months. Adjusting for sociodemographic and use variables, children were more likely to have a dental visit when their parents also had a dental visit (adjusted odds ratio: 3.36 [95% confidence interval: 2.71–4.18]), compared with children of parents who did not have a dental visit. In addition, compared with children of parents who did not defer seeking dental care, children of parents who deferred their dental care because of cost were more likely to have care deferred because of cost as well (adjusted odds ratio: 12.47 [95% confidence interval: 9.09–17.11]).
Conclusions: Parental oral health–seeking behaviors for themselves may have an important effect on oral health–seeking behaviors on behalf of their children, regardless of the child's insurance status. Comprehensive strategies to eliminate barriers that target parents and not just children may help to address children's underuse of oral health services.
- Accepted September 2, 2009.
- ©2010 American Academy of Pediatrics