Nigerian Quarterly Journal of Hospital Medicine

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Oral Health Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices of Parents of Children With Congenital Heart Disease

G A Agbelusi, C N Okoromah, S O Nwhator


INTRODUCTION: Caring for chronically ill child could be a great challenge, more so in a depressed economy like in Nigeria. The added burden of dental care appears to be the least among the worries of the parents and guardians of such children. Their oral care is therefore often neglected. This paper aims to obtain baseline data on the current level of knowledge, attitudes and practices of the parents and caregivers of children with congenital heart disease since their own practices will impact on the way they take care of these children.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Examiner administered questionnaires were used to obtain information relating to the oral health, knowledge, attitude and practices of parents/ caregivers of children with congenital heart defects attending the Paediatric Cardiology Clinic of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital from March to July 2003. The children were also examined. A total of 41 children were seen.

RESULTS: 76.3% of the parents had never visited a dentist. More mothers were aware of the need for antibiotic prophylaxis before some dental treatments (p=0.049). 82.9% of the parents did not know that bleeding gums could pose a serious health risk to their children. 90.2% are unaware that some dental treatment can complicate their children's heart condition. Though 92.7% of parents were aware of the benefits of tooth brushing; only 36.6% ensured regular brushing for their children.

CONCLUSION: There is urgent need for oral health education for the parents/ caregivers of children with congenital heart defects to forestall a situation where they would endanger their children/ wards life through ignorance. There is also a need for interdisciplinary management of these children by the cardiologists and the dentists to ensure these children get the much needed comprehensive care that is important to their wellbeing.

Keywords: Congenital heart disease, Oral health knowledge, Oral health practices.

NQJHM Vol. 15 (1) 2005: pp. 34-37
AJOL African Journals Online