• early childhood caries;
  • mental health;
  • oral health;
  • Pacific children

Paterson JE, Gao W, Sundborn G, Cartwright S. Maternal self-report of oral health in six-year-old Pacific children from South Auckland, New Zealand. Community Dent Oral Epidemiol 2011; 39: 19–28. © 2010 John Wiley & Sons A/S


Objective  To examine maternal and socio-demographic factors associated with oral health practices and experiences in six-year-old Pacific children.

Methods  The longitudinal Pacific Islands Families (PIF) study is following a cohort of Pacific children born in Auckland, New Zealand in 2000. At approximately six years postpartum maternal reports (n = 1001) on child oral health practices and experiences of fillings and extractions were gathered.

Results  Forty-five per cent of mothers reported that their child had experienced fillings or extractions. After adjusting for confounding factors, we found that Tongan children were almost twice as likely to have their teeth filled or extracted than Samoan children (OR, 1.93; 95%, 1.34–2.77). Differences between Samoan children and children of other ethnic groups were not significant. Children of mothers who had secondary qualifications were significantly less likely to have their teeth filled or extracted compared to children of mothers who had postsecondary qualifications (OR, 0.634; 95%, 0.44–0.90). Prolonged duration of breastfeeding was associated with an increased likelihood of filling or extraction experience. In terms of maternal oral hygiene, maternal tooth brushing frequency of less that once a day was significantly associated with increased odds of fillings and/or extractions in their children (OR, 1.35; 95% CI, 1.02–1.79). Children who were sometimes supervised for tooth brushing were significantly more likely to have fillings or extractions than children who were not provided supervision.

Conclusions  These findings highlight the role of cultural factors and maternal hygiene in child oral health outcomes and suggest that health promotion efforts should encompass the whole family and embrace a culturally appropriate approach.