Introduction: Appropriate oral health knowledge is essential to enable parents to be responsible for the oral health care of their children especially those with special needs. This study aimed to determine the oral health knowledge, attitude and practice (KAP) of parents and cariogenic food intake of their non-syndromic cleft lip with or without cleft palate children (NSCLP) compared to non-cleft children.
Methods: A comparative cross-sectional study was conducted on randomly selected parents with children aged 1 to 6 years at Hospital Universiti Sains Malaysia and Kota Bharu Dental Clinic. A face-to-face interview using a validated questionnaire on oral health KAP and cariogenic food intake of their children was done. Data were analysed by using IBM SPSS version 22.0.
Results: Sixty-four Malay parents with NSCLP (n=33) and non-cleft (n=31) children were recruited. The mean (SD) percentage score of oral health knowledge of parents in both groups (NSCLP and non-cleft) was fair, 59.5%(11.85) and 62.0%(15.00), P=0.4722; oral health attitude was good, 78.0% (9.30) and 80.2% (15.40), P=0.504; but oral health practice was poor 33.8% (5.94) and 36.1 (8.44), P=0.220. The cariogenic food frequency score was significantly higher in noncleft children; 40.2(10.32) compared to NSCLP children, 34.8(9.46), P=0.032.
Conclusions: Parents of both groups had fair knowledge and good attitude but poor oral health practice. Cariogenic foods were consumed more by the non-cleft children. Oral health awareness among the parents needs to be strengthened towards good oral health attitude and practice and non-cariogenic food choices for the betterment of oral health status of their children.