A university study will check on the oral health of up to 1800 young children to better understand and prevent tooth decay.

The University of Adelaide study hopes to identify the factors that shape the oral health of toddlers and preschool children.

"Despite a substantial level of resources being dedicated to child oral health, dental decay remains the most prevalent chronic disease in children," study leader Loc Do says.

Parents will be asked to provide information about children including diet and fluid intake.

The children will also be given a dental check and other health conditions, such as obesity, will be noted.

Associate professor Do said oral health should not be looked at in isolation from other factors in children's lives.

He said a combined preventive approach, targeting both oral health and general health conditions, could yield significant benefits for children.

The study will also consider the impact a family's economic circumstances have on the oral health of their children.