Families of children aged 2-6 years are invited to participate in a trial testing a new internet based online program for parents to help improve oral health-related practices and prevent cavities in their children.

What is the research project about? 

This research conducted by researchers from Griffith University and the University of Queensland aims to test a newly-developed internet-based online program for parents designed to help parents to improve oral health-related practices and prevent the development of cavities (“dental caries”) in their children’s teeth. This internet-based program ‘Healthy habits for life– oral health’ is suitable for parents of young children aged 2-6 years. The online program is based on the concepts of word renowned Triple P- Positive Parenting program and aims to help parents deal with problems related to tooth brushing and sugar/snacking in young children thus helping prevent tooth decay/dental cavities. The online program approximately takes 2-4 hours to complete.  

Who is funding the research project? 

This research is funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council. This research is approved by the Griffith University Human Research Ethics Committee (GU ref no: 2020/700). 

Benefits of the research

We expect that completing the online program will lead to improvements in children’s oral health practices and reduced incidence of tooth decay. All children, regardless of group allocation, will get to keep the powered toothbrush along with toothbrush heads that are sufficient for 18 months’ use. You will receive a written report following each of your child’s dental examinations.

What will I be asked to do?

Your participation in this study will require a commitment from you and your child over a period of 18 months. 

  • First, a brief telephone screening interview with a member of the research team (taking approximately 5-10 minutes) will check that you are eligible to participate. 
  • If you consent to participate, you will be asked to complete a set of online questionnaires (taking approximately 30 minutes to complete). 
  • We will then invite you to attend your child’s Childcare Centre or school to meet with a member of the research team. You will receive a Bluetooth supported powered toothbrush (and mobile app) free-of-charge for your child to keep and use during the study, along with monthly tooth brushing charts, information on how to use the toothbrush’s app, and how to take pictures of your child’s teeth with your smartphone camera. Your child’s teeth will then be examined for tooth decay by the researcher who is a qualified dentist. Finally, you will be asked to take a set of photos of your child’s teeth using your smartphone and share these with the research team. This visit should take approximately 20 minutes.
  • If you are unable to attend your child’s Childcare Centre or school during business hours, we can still assess your child’s teeth (your attendance is welcome but not mandatory) and mail out the materials and equipment to your home address. This will be followed by a brief phone/Zoom call to explain how to use the toothbrush’s app and take digital images. You will then be asked to take a set of photos of your child’s teeth at home and send these to the research team.
  • A week later, all families will be asked to send a screen shot of the “tooth brushing summary” from the app to the research team. We will then randomly assign your child’s centre(50/50, like the toss of a coin) to an intervention (“Start Now”) or to the control group (“Start Later”). 
  • Families in the centre or school allocated to Start Now will be given immediate access to the online program, and need to complete the four modules of the online program within the first four weeks. The program is interactive and includes video/audio clips, goal-setting activities and progress trackers. The program can be accessed via any device (e.g. smartphone, tablet, computer) with internet access, and you can work through the modules at your own pace.  
  • Families in a centre or school allocated to Start Later will receive links to the Queensland Health and Australian Dental Association providing information on how to maintain good oral hygiene in children, and will be provided with access to the online program after an 18-month waiting period. 
  • In addition to completing the questionnaires at the beginning of the study, you will be asked to complete the same simple questionnaires at 6-weeks, 6 and 12 months. You will receive a survey link by email to complete the survey online. The questionnaires will ask about your family background, tooth brushing difficulties with your child and methods you use to promote tooth brushing, your knowledge and attitudes towards tooth brushing, and your child’s tooth brushing, sugar consumption and dental visiting practices. You will be asked about family background only once, at the start of the study. 
  • We will ask you to send a screenshot of the tooth brushing summary (from the toothbrush’s mobile app) and a photo of the tooth brushing chart every month until 12 months. You will receive a survey link every month by email for uploading the screenshot and a picture of that month’s tooth brushing chart.
  • Your child will undergo simple examinations of his/her teeth by the same trained examiner (at their Childcare Centre or school) which will take 3-4 minutes again at 12 and 18 months. We will seek verbal assent from your child before examining their teeth every time. In the event of another lockdown due to COVID-19, we will ask you to take pictures of your child’s teeth and send them to us through a survey link sent to you by email at 12 and 18 months. 
  • No treatment will be provided to children participating in this research. You will, however, be provided with a written report of each of your child’s dental examinations free of charge, and you are free to follow up with your own family dentist if any treatment is recommended/required. 

What are the risks or side-effects or problems of participating in this research?

We do not anticipate any particular risks to you or your child because of participation in this research. Some questions in the questionnaire ask about problems with tooth brushing with your child that might cause some discomfort to some parents. If you find any questions discomforting, you could choose not to answer those questions. 

What if I wish to withdraw from the research?

Participation in this research is voluntary. If you or your child do not wish to participate, you are not obliged to participate. Also, if you decide to take part and later change your mind, you and your child are free to withdraw from the study at any time.

How do you ensure the confidentiality of the data collected in this research?

Data collected from you or your child will be de-identified, and any identifiable details, such as your or child’s name, will be removed and replaced by your participant ID. All records will be stored on secure password protected computer servers of Griffith University. At the end of the research project, we will delete all identifiable information, so your personal information could not be identified. You will not be personally identifiable in any report, presentation or publication. All the information collected on paper will be destroyed five years after study results are published

Contact us

For any questions or more information, please contact the chief investigator of the project:

Dr Santosh Kumar Tadakamadla – Senior Research Fellow Fellow

National Health and Medical Research Council Early Career Fellow

School of Dentistry and Oral Health – Griffith University

+61 7 5678 0153| Email: [email protected]


Dr Vatsna Rathore – PhD candidate

School of Dentistry and Oral Health – Griffith University

M- 0469340843 email: [email protected]