Open Access Research article

Relationship between children’s oral health-related behaviors and their caregiver’s sense of coherence

Rong Min Qiu1, May CM Wong2, Edward CM Lo2 and Huan Cai Lin1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Preventive Dentistry, Guanghua School of Stomatology, Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Stomatology, Sun Yat-sen University, 56 Ling Yuan Road West, Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China

2 Dental Public Health, Faculty of Dentistry, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 510055, China

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:239  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-239

Published: 19 March 2013



Sense of coherence (SOC) is hypothesized to be an important psychological factor that enables people to cope with stressors and successfully maintain and improve health. Mother’s SOC has been shown to be an important psychological factor associated with oral health and oral health-related behaviors of adolescents and 11- to 12-year-old children. However, little is known about the relationship between the caregiver’s SOC and oral health-related behaviors of the preschool children. The objective of this study was to investigate the relationship between oral health-related behaviors of 5-year-old children in Southern China and SOC of their caregiver.


A cross-sectional study was conducted in a randomized sample of 1332 children aged 5 years and their caregivers in Guangzhou, Southern China. Data were collected through questionnaires completed by the caregivers. The Chinese short version of Antonovsky’s SOC scale (13 items) was employed to assess the caregiver’s SOC. The outcome variables were the child’s oral health-related behaviors, including frequency of sugary snack intake, toothbrushing frequency, utilization of dental service, and pattern of dental visits. Multiple logistic regression was used to analyze the relationship between the variables.


No association was found between the children’s sugary snack intake and the mother’s or the father’s SOC. After adjustment for other significant factors related to the child’s oral health-related behaviors, 8.9% of the children whose grandparents (as caregivers) had higher SOC scores had a lower frequency of sugary snack intake, compared with the children whose grandparents had lower SOC scores (OR = 0.61, 95% CI = 0.50–0.73, p = 0.008). The other measures of oral health-related behaviors of the child were not significantly associated with the caregiver’s SOC.


Sugary snack intake behavior of the 5-year-old children was not associated with the mother’s or the father’s SOC. It was associated with the SOC of their grandparents, who are a small group of the caregivers in China.

Child; Caregiver; Sense of coherence; Oral health-related behavior; Psychological factor