Meanings and practices of oral health: a qualitative study with mothers of disabled children


  • Késia Lara dos Santos Marques Universidade Federal de Uberlândia
  • Fabiana Sodré de Oliveira Universidade Federal de Uberlândia
  • Larisse Paula de Oliveira Universidade Federal de Uberlândia
  • Natália Martins Joaquim Universidade Federal de Uberlândia
  • Guilherme Silva Mendonca Universidade Federal de Uberlândia
  • Alessandra Maia de Castro Prado Universidade Federal de Uberlândia



Oral Health, Disabled Children, Qualitative Research.


The aim of this study was to understand the meanings and oral health practices of ten mothers of disabled children between the ages of zero and three years. The qualitative method was used. The data was collected by means of a semi-structured interview and were recorded, transcribed and analysed using the Thematic Content Analysis. Regarding to the oral health care of the mothers, three reported difficult and traumatising experiences and three did not have much contact with dentists during their childhood. Regarding to the children, the age of their first visit to the dentist varied from three months to two years and six months, and the reason for this appointment for seven children was referral by their doctor or by the Association of Parents and Friends of the Exceptional. Seven mothers reported that they brushed the teeth of their children at least twice a day and only two cited the importance of regular dental appointments. For two mothers, the meaning of oral health was to have a perfect smile and for four others, maintain oral hygiene. Half of the mothers related oral health to general health. All reported that dental caries is related to diet and lack of care regarding to oral hygiene. It was possible to conclude that for this group of mothers, oral health has an important meaning and that oral health practices are based on a healthy diet and brushing. Although mothers of disabled children have presented positive attitudes, in general, the results indicated limited knowledge about oral health. The results showed the importance of considering the point of view of the mothers as data of analysis bringing greater proximity with the reality studied. More qualitative studies should be conducted in order to collaborate with the improvement of the oral condition of disabled children.


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How to Cite

MARQUES, K.L. dos S., OLIVEIRA, F.S. de, OLIVEIRA, L.P. de, JOAQUIM, N.M., MENDONCA, G.S. and PRADO, A.M. de C., 2020. Meanings and practices of oral health: a qualitative study with mothers of disabled children. Bioscience Journal [online], vol. 36, no. 2, pp. 681–690. [Accessed29 February 2024]. DOI 10.14393/BJ-v36n2a2020-48259. Available from:



Health Sciences