Objectives: The objective of this study was to explore Child and Family Health Nurses' work-related experiences of dental disease in young children. Methods: Child and Family Health Nurses (n = 21) who recruited new mothers to an ongoing birth cohort study that began in South Western Sydney, Australia were invited to take part in a qualitative study. A semi-structured, in-depth interview technique was used to explore their experiences of preschool child oral health and how this affects their working lives. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed using a thematic analysis. Results: The nurses considered dental caries to be a significant health issue for young children and their families. They thought that the burden of dental disease in preschool children was underestimated in disadvantaged and multicultural populations. In addition, they reported that parents were often unaware of the disease process and were ignorant of the relationship between bottle feeding and dental caries. Once the parents were informed about their child's poor oral health, they had feelings of anger, despair, and guilt. Conclusions: This study highlights that oral health problems are a significant segment of the child health problems identified by nurses in their daily work. The nurses perceived the problem of dental caries to be one of a lack of parental knowledge, and families should be educated not only on "what" but also on "how" to feed their children. The primary healthcare team should work collaboratively to educate families in a culturally appropriate way.
- dental caries
- early childhood caries
- qualitative research
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health