Summary. Objectives. To examine attitudes and experiences of parents whose children have complex congenital heart disease (CHD) with respect to dental health information and advice, dental care, and service and to compare the results with data from an age- and gender-matched control group without any medical problems.
Setting. Faculty of Medicine (Paediatric Cardiology and Paediatric Dentistry), Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden.
Sample and method. Each group comprised parents of 33 children; the children's mean age was 9·4 years. All the cases and the controls resided in the county of Västerbotten, northern Sweden. Data were collected with a questionnaire with 20 joint questions to both groups and four additional questions to the CHD group.
Results. Of the 20 joint questions, significant differences were displayed in the following areas: the professional group that provided the parents with dental health information and advice (P < 0·01), attitudes to reception at the dental clinic, and experience of sedation before operative dental treatment (P < 0·05). Parents to 11 children with CHD who were patients at a specialist clinic for paediatric dentistry scored the reception at the dental clinic as excellent in nine cases and satisfactory in two, compared to excellent (3), satisfactory (11), decent (4), and poor (4) among those who were patients in general dental practice (P < 0·01). No statistically significant differences in educational level or in parental experience of dental health were noted between the two groups (P > 0·05).
Conclusion. Children with CHD in northern Sweden mainly receive their dental health information from a physician or a dentist, and healthy children mainly receive information from a dental hygienist indicating that children with CHD are given priority in the dental care system. Parental attitudes to reception in the dental service differed, and parents of healthy children scored the reception at the dental clinic better than parents of children with CHD. It is suggested that children with severe CHD should receive dental care in clinics for paediatric dentistry, particularly at early ages.