To assess the parental knowledge and practices regarding infant teething and attitude towards infant oral health among parents of infants aged 6 months to 3-years.
Materials and methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted among 400 parents who met the inclusion criteria. A self-designed, validated questionnaire comprising 13 questions was used. Questionnaire comprised of sociodemographic details, knowledge and experience of teething symptoms, practices used to relieve it and overall attitude towards infant oral health. Descriptive statistics and Chi-square test was applied.
Results: Parents attributed fever (87%), diarrhea (65%), gum irritation (71%) and desire to bite (78%) as common teething symptoms. Ninety-eight percent of the participants did not know that delayed tooth eruption could be an indicator for systemic disease. In case of first born child, parental knowledge was poor as compared to 2nd or 3rd born child (p = 0.023). Parents had a positive attitude regarding consulting a physician for teething problems and visiting a dentist for issues related to infant oral health. Tlismi necklaces (67%) and homeopathic tablets (25.8%) were two unique remedies identified in this population. Parents also reported over-the-counter use of systemic analgesics (58.2%). Emergence of upper teeth before lower teeth was considered as a bad omen by few parents.
Conclusion: Parents wrongly attributed several systemic illnesses as teething symptoms. Though parents had a positive attitude towards infant oral care, it was not inculcated into practice.
Clinical significance: Parents should be advised against self-medication and to report systemic illness in children to pediatricians and pediatric dentists for correct diagnosis and appropriate treatment. This study also highlights the need for educating parents about infant teething and oral care practices related to primary dentition for eruption of healthy permanent dentition.