During the COVID-19 pandemic, restrictive rules were imposed around the world to limit the spread of the virus. The present study aims to investigate how the pandemic and the consequent restrictions have affected the lives and oral health of Italian families with children aged 0–14 years.
Material and methods
Through a questionnaire distributed online from December 2020 to March 2021 the following aspects were investigated: family income during the pandemic, fear of the pandemic, dietary habits, perceived risk of infection in a dental practice and perceived children oral health status during the pandemic.
A total of 802 questionnaires were collected, 58% of the respondents were from the North of Italy, 19% from the Center and 23% from the South. The results showed that 78% of respondents did not experience a family income reduction, and the average level of fear was 6.6 on a scale from 0 to 10, with the highest value (7.1) in Southern Italy. There were no significant changes in food consumption for the 60% of the sample and more than 80% of the interviewees stated that they had not changed their intake of sugary foods, drinks, carbohydrates, frozen foods, fruit and vegetables. Regarding daily life, 25% of the total sample avoided “attending health offices/clinics”, 54% “going outdoors for leisure”, and 62% “visiting relatives/friends”. Only 8% of respondents believed that the dental practice presented a greater risk of infection than other closed settings, and accordingly 8% would not take their children to a dental appointment. Fifty-two percent of the total sample would take their children to a dental appointment “only for urgent treatments” and 40% of the sample for “any procedure”. However, regarding the experience of dental disease during the pandemic, more than 90% of the respondents reported that their children did not experience dental trauma, cavities or dental pain.
The pandemic has not drastically changed the socio-economic conditions, the dietary habits and the oral health condition of most Italian children. Nevertheless, the pandemic seems to have highlighted significant macro-regional differences regarding the satisfaction with the response of the regional health services to the pandemic. The continuation of the pandemic and the possible socio-economic effects could favour new changes in lifestyles, oral health and discrepancies regarding health care access, which deserve to be the subject of further investigation.
Vol.24 – n.1/2023
Harvard: L. Lardani, E. Carli, S. Ligori, M. R. Gatto, A. Bottoni, C. Bombardini, S. Bagattoni (2023) "Parental attitude toward children’s oral health during COVID-19 pandemic: a cross-sectional study in Italy", European Journal of Paediatric Dentistry, 24(1), pp10-14. doi: 10.23804/EJPD.2023.24.01.02
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