Dental Hygiene ETDs

Publication Date

Fall 11-15-2016



Purpose: Childhood caries represents a public health issue especially for the Head Start population due to many disadvantages. Behavioral risk factors such as locus of health control (LoC) could act as indirect casual agents in the development of dental disease, but has not been fully studied. This research was to assess the relationship between parental attitudes/ health locus of control, parental age, and parental marital status with caries experience in their preschool children by using a validated survey.

Methods: The target population assessed in this study was the parents of children enrolled in Head Start Programs, in Santa Fe County, in New Mexico. Study data included questionnaires in regards to children's and parents demographics, dental caries experience, and 13 attitudinal items regarding locus of control (LoC) in caries prevention.

Results: This study overwhelmingly suggests that there is no statistical evidence of a relationship between the number of caries of children and parental marital status, age, or LoC. An additive Poisson regression model would appear to agree that parental age, attitude, nor marital status explain a significant amount of variability in number of caries, as all p-values are greater than even a liberal cutoff of 0.1.

Conclusion: The data does not contradict the null hypothesis that parental attitudes towards oral health do not affect their children’s oral health or occurrence of dental caries, but the ability of psychological characteristics to explain oral health was limited in this study, given the underrepresentation of individuals exhibiting an external LoC. It is plausible that individuals with high internal LoC also tend to be more vigilant in regard to proactive dental care, leading to the results we saw of few caries.

Degree Name

Dental Hygiene

Level of Degree


Department Name

Dental Medicine

First Committee Member (Chair)

Christine Nathe

Second Committee Member

Demetra Logothetis

Third Committee Member

Diana Aboytes




head start programs, education, dental caries, prevention, locus of control, parental attitudes

Document Type