Background. Early Childhood Caries is a significant public health issue worldwide. Although much is known about the aetiology of dental caries, there is limited evidence on the understanding of caregivers on readily available early childhood oral health education materials. Aim. The purpose of this study was to record how parents cope with dental health education materials for preschool children commonly available in New South Wales, Australia. Design. This qualitative study was nested within a large cohort study in South Western Sydney. English-speaking mothers (n=24) with young children were approached for a face-to-face, semi-structured interview at their homes. Two dental leaflets designed by NSW Health to give advice on monitoring young children's oral health were sent to mothers prior to the interview. Interviews were recorded and subsequently transcribed verbatim. Transcripts were analysed by interview debriefing and a thematic coding. Results. Mothers generally reported that the leaflets were easy to read but noted that the information pertaining to bottle feeding was confusing. Furthermore, they were unable to understand terms such as 'fluoride' and 'fissure sealants'. Early childhood nutrition and infant teething were inadequately addressed, and mothers preferred pictorial presentations to improve their understanding of oral health. Conclusions. Producers of health education leaflets should keep the messages simple and straightforward, avoid the use of medical jargon, and use pictorial aids to improve communication with parents.
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