PURPOSE The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of early childhood caries (ECC) on children's oral health-related quality of life (QOL) before and 4 weeks after its treatment, as assessed by the children themselves as well as by their parents/guardians. METHODS This study had a longitudinal intervention design. Sixty-nine children diagnosed with ECC and 43 children without caries (combined children's mean age=50.4 months; range=22 to 70 months) and their parents/guardians responded to face-to-face administered surveys before a dental treatment was started (baseline assessment). Thirty-seven children with ECC completed dental rehabilitation. Four weeks after the treatment was completed, these 37 children as well as their parents/guardians responded to a second survey (follow-up assessment). RESULTS The results show that children with ECC have significantly lower oral health-related QOL than children without ECC as assessed both by the children and the parents/guardians at baseline. The children with ECC who received dental treatment had a significantly improved oral health-related QOL at the follow-up assessment when compared with their baseline measurement as measured both with the children's self-ratings of oral health-related QOL and the parents'/guardians' perception of their child's oral health-related QOL. CONCLUSIONS ECC and its treatment affect children's oral health-related QOL in a significant way. Oral health-related QOL can be assessed validly and reliably both in self-reports from children as young as 36 months of age as well as by asking parents/guardians about their perceptions of their child's oral health-related QOL.
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