Date of Conferral





Public Health


Vasileios Margaritis


When caregivers defer their personal routine dental care (RDC) in order to provide RDC for their children, they risk detrimental consequences in their personal health and the health of their children. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to identify the risk factors that led to the parental dental deferment decision. The oral health and personal care services conceptual models guided the development of the research questions, facilitated the selection of risk factors on the decision-making process, and provided the basis for the data analysis thematic categories. Ten caregivers who made the decision to defer their personal RDC for the sake of their children's RDC participated in the study. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed thematically. According to the results of the study, the oral health beliefs of caregivers shaped their decision to seek RDC for their children while financial barriers, dental fear, and distrust obstructed their capacity to seek RDC for themselves. Caregivers placed a higher priority on their children's wellbeing--including dental care--than on their own health, despite knowing the association between poor oral health and serious health conditions. These findings indicated, for caregivers, deferring personal RDC was not a lack of desire, education, or care but striving for constant balance between affordability and providing their children with every healthy opportunity in life. The positive social change implications of this study include increasing the proportion of adults receiving RDC yearly through development of targeted interventions that increase caregivers' access to and utilization of dental care services. Such efforts would support the strategies implemented to achieve Healthy People 2020 objectives.