OBJECTIVES: We sought to determine Maryland adults’ knowledge, understanding, opinions, and practices with respect to prevention and early detection of dental caries.
METHODS: We conducted a statewide random-digit-dialing, computer-assisted telephone survey in 2010 among 770 adults who had a child aged 6 years or younger living in their home. A traditional random-digit sample and a targeted low-income sample were included. Analyses included frequencies, percentages, the χ(2) test, and multivariate logistic regression.
RESULTS: Respondents’ overall level of knowledge about preventing dental caries was low. Those with higher levels of education were more likely to have correct information regarding prevention and early detection of dental caries. Nearly all respondents (97.9%) reported that they were aware of fluoride, but only 57.8% knew its purpose. More than one third (35.1%) of the respondents were not aware of dental sealants. Those with lower levels of education were significantly less likely to drink tap water, as were their children, and significantly less likely to have had a dental appointment in the preceding past 12 months.
CONCLUSIONS: Our results demonstrate the need to increase oral health literacy regarding caries prevention and early detection.