Get access

Counseling on Early Childhood Caries transmission by dentists


Dr. Peter Milgrom, Department of Oral Health Sciences, University of Washington, Box 357475, Seattle, WA 98195-7475, USA. Tel.: 206-685-4183; Fax: 206-685-4258; e-mail Peter Milgrom is with the Northwest Center to Reduce Oral Health Disparities, University of Washington. Colleen E. Huebner and David Grembowskiare with the Department of Health Services, University of Washington. Lloyd Mancl, Gayle Garson, and David Grembowski are with the Department of Oral Health Sciences, University of Washington.


Objective: High levels of Streptococcus mutans on teeth of young children are predictive of Early Childhood Caries (ECC). Transmission from mother-to-child is common and studies have demonstrated treatment of the mother results in less ECC. The objective of this study was to determine how dentists have adopted the practice of counseling about ECC.

Methods: In 2006 as part of a larger study on dental care for pregnant women, we surveyed 829 general dentists in Oregon. The questionnaire contained questions to capture the extent to which general dentists have adopted counseling pregnant women about ECC transmission, to describe personal and practice characteristics, and examine how dentists' views on the ease of adopting of new procedures related to ECC counseling. Multivariate logistic regression was used to identify separate and additive effects of demographic and practice characteristics, attitudes, and beliefs.

Results: The adjusted odds of a dentist who strongly believed in the link between mothers and babies and provided ECC counseling were 1.60 (95% CI 1.3-2.0, P < 0.01). The odds of a dentist who reported discussing ECC with staff members and provided counseling were 2.7 (95% CI 1.7-4.3, P < 0.01). Male dentists were less likely to counsel patients than female dentists (Adjusted OR = 0.5, 95% CI 0.3-1.0, p < 0.05).

Conclusions: The strongest predictors of counseling patients about ECC were dentists' belief in the evidence of caries transmission and dentists' discussion of ECC during staff meetings.