Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Carol Caudill, DDS

Second Advisor

Caroline Carrico, PhD

Third Advisor

Jitendra Jethwani, DDS


Purpose: The purpose of this study is to identify the ability of parents in the VCU Pediatric Dental Clinic to recognize signs of decay and trauma and to determine their knowledge regarding the primary dentition.

Methods: This is a cross-sectional study that determined parental attitude and knowledge toward the function of primary teeth, childhood dental decay and dental trauma. Study data was collected through REDCap, a secure web-based survey application. Parents who brought their child to the VCU Pediatric Dental Clinic for a new patient examination or a recall examination were included in the study. The survey was only formatted in English, any non-English speaking parents were excluded. The following patient demographics were ascertained in the survey: gender, age, race, and level of education.

Results: A total of 107 guardians participated in the study. Guardians demonstrated strong knowledge of importance of baby teeth, with greater than 90% of guardians agreeing or strongly agreeing that primary teeth are important (95%), impact ability to eat (95%), and that they hold space for adult teeth (92%). Guardians were also aware that sugary foods/drinks cause cavities (93%), However, only 62% agreed/strongly agreed that they are important for fitting in with friends/peers. Almost half still agreed or strongly agreed that baby teeth have no function and will be replaced (46%).

Conclusions: Parents and guardians appear to have a general understanding and knowledge of their child’s primary (baby) teeth, but increased guardian education on the early signs of decay and anticipatory guidance regarding dental trauma could help to prevent cavities from forming and help parents and guardians understand the significance of a traumatic dental injury.


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