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Tooth brushing habit formation in children of Mexican immigrant families in Pennsylvania, U.S.: a qualitative study

Benadof, Dafna (2015) Tooth brushing habit formation in children of Mexican immigrant families in Pennsylvania, U.S.: a qualitative study. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Oral diseases can greatly impact people’s life. Latinos in the U.S. have higher risk of developing caries and gingivitis than non-Hispanic whites. These diseases can be prevented by implementing oral hygiene behaviors such as tooth brushing. For this behavior to be effective, it has to evolve into a habit. Few studies have addressed tooth brushing habit formation in children, and only one of them was targeted to the Latinos. OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study is to: 1)describe efforts Mexican immigrants parents make to teach their children to brush their teeth, and 2)identify habit formation components. METHODS: This exploratory qualitative study included twenty in-depth interviews with Mexican immigrant parents. Participants were recruited in different Latino venues in Pittsburgh, PA and Philadelphia PA. The investigator conducted the interviews, which were recorded, transcribed verbatim and coded. Standard qualitative thematic analyses were performed. NVivo 10 software was used to aid the coding process. RESULTS: Parents experiences while teaching their children to brush their teeth were organized in four tooth brushing stages: entirely dependent tooth brushing, assisted tooth brushing, road to tooth brushing independence, and independent tooth brushing. Intention, attitudes, contextual cues, and motivation appeared to have great importance in children’s tooth brushing learning process. Parental knowledge and sources of information available affected the initiation of tooth brushing. Tooth brushing was defined as a social and familial event or as an individual event. Consistent tooth brushing routines facilitated the compliance of the behavior. CONCLUSION: Parents’ efforts to teach their children to brush their teeth were reflected in their involvement in the development of daily tooth brushing routines. Consistency in their routines and attitudes affected the emotional tone of tooth brushing sessions. From participants’ experiences we developed the hypothesis that there are four stages in the tooth brushing learning process that follow a progressive pattern throughout the growth of a child and ends with a tooth brushing habit. This information is relevant to public health as it can help diminish health inequalities. Future quantitative research studies should be conducted to evaluate tooth brushing habit formation in larger groups of Latinos.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairDocumet,
Committee MemberFeingold, Eleanorfeingold@pitt.eduFEINGOLD
Committee MemberPolk, Deborahdpolk@pitt.eduDPOLK
Committee MemberWeyant, Robertrjw1@pitt.eduRJW1
Date: 29 June 2015
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 16 March 2015
Approval Date: 29 June 2015
Submission Date: 24 March 2015
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 169
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Behavioral and Community Health Sciences
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: public health, oral hygiene, habits, Latinos, oral health
Date Deposited: 29 Jun 2015 14:53
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:26


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