OHEP: An Oral Health Education Program for Mothers of Newborns

Donna Hallas, Jill B. Fernandez, Lily J. Lim, Peter Catapano, Shayleigh K. Dickson, Kathryn R. Blouin, Tami M. Schmidt, Rafael Acal-Jiminez, Nitasha Ali, Keila E. Figueroa, Neha M. Jiwani, Ashu Sharma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: The purposes of the study were to determine (a) the knowledge base of mothers of newborns on oral health for newborns and young infants and (b) the effectiveness of an oral health education program provided to mothers of newborns prior to discharge from the postpartum unit. Methods: Ninety-four mothers of healthy newborns on a postpartum unit were randomized to the treatment or control group. A pretest was administered to each mother to assess the mother's knowledge of infant oral health. The treatment intervention was a DVD designed collaboratively by an interprofessional team of nurse practitioners and dental faculty to educate the mothers on oral health care for their newborns. The control intervention was a DVD on newborn nutrition. All participants received routine newborn nursery discharge instructions by the postpartum nurses and physicians. Follow-up appointments were scheduled 6 and 12months later for administration of the posttest to the mothers and for oral health assessments of the infants. Results: Pretest questionnaire results revealed that most mothers lacked knowledge about oral health care for infants and young children, especially concerning vertical transmission of streptococcus mutans through food-sharing practices. In addition, 28.4% of the mothers were not aware of the benefits of fluoride as a prevention strategy for dental caries. A significant no-show rate for the planned follow-up visits in the dental clinic hindered our plans to evaluate the effectiveness of the oral health educational program on prevention of dental white spots or decay when the study infants were 6 and 12months old, respectively. Discussion: The knowledge deficit of mothers of newborns regarding oral health care for infants may be one of the contributing factors to the high prevalence rate of dental caries in children younger than 71months. An oral health educational program provided to mothers on the postpartum unit prior to discharge from the hospital may help increase mothers' knowledge about oral health care and prevention of dental caries in infants and young children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-190
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Pediatric Health Care
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015


  • Dental caries
  • Early childhood caries
  • Infant teeth
  • Oral health
  • Oral health knowledge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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