Living in a sweetie culture: Scottish parents' difficulties in maintaining their children's oral health

Patricia Anne Smith, Ruth Freeman

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    6 Citations (Scopus)


    Objective To investigate the views and experiences of parents whose children have rampant tooth decay.

    Methods In-depth, semi-structured interviews were carried out with 19 parents of varied age and social background whose children had been referred to Dundee Dental Hospital for assessment for dental extractions. Participants were encouraged to discuss their own and their child's dental experiences and their views on how the child developed rampant caries. The interview data was systematically coded using key theme headings, and summary charts were constructed to facilitate analysis.

    Results The parents found it difficult to avoid sweets and giving their children sweet treats. They had limited knowledge of oral health maintenance which was poorly applied. These factors, combined with the difficulties of family life - in particular illness and life events - created circumstances in which their children experienced tooth decay.

    Conclusions Parents find it difficult to restrict their children's sugar intake in an environment where sugary snacks are so readily available. More societal support in restricting children's sugar intake is of central importance. Parents would benefit from more sympathetic and explicit diet and toothbrushing messages tailored to their individual circumstances from those involved in the care of children's oral health.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)255-265
    Number of pages11
    JournalHealth Education Journal
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009


    • children
    • dental caries
    • parents
    • sugars


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