Most disabled children with have caries, poor oral hygiene

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Most children with special healthcare needs have caries and poor oral hygiene—study

Researchers studying the oral health of children with disabilities say that tailored interventions are needed in order to improve oral health outcomes and enhance overall well-being. (Image: Apichatn21/Shutterstock)

Thu. 3. August 2023


JODHPUR, India: A study of the oral health of children with special healthcare needs in the Jodhpur district in Rajasthan province has found a high incidence of caries and poor levels of oral hygiene. The prevalence of caries among the children was 65%, and the authors say that the findings emphasise the need for targeted preventive measures to improve the oral health of the at-risk group.

Researchers from India, Saudi Arabia and Canada evaluated the oral health and hygiene of 124 children aged 4–15 years enrolled in special schools in the Jodhpur district. All the children in the study required special healthcare support.

Oral examinations showed that 65% of the group had caries, varying in severity from mild (40%) to moderate (20%) and severe (5%). Poor oral hygiene was exhibited by 75% of the children. The group had a mean number of decayed, missing and filled primary teeth (dmft) score of 2.8, and the incidence of caries was greater among the older pupils. Mean dmft scores were 2.5 in the 4–7 age group, 2.9 in the 8–11 age group and 3.2 in the 12–15 age group.

An assessment of the oral hygiene habits of the group showed that 60% of the children brushed their teeth once daily and 40% brushed their teeth twice daily. The vast majority (70%) reported not using fluoride, and 55% said that they did not regularly use dental floss.

Oral examinations of 124 children enrolled in special schools in Jodhpur District in India showed that showed that 65% of the group had caries. (Image: Shalini S, Sharma S, Anand A, et al., CC BY 4.0, no changes.)

The researchers said: “The findings emphasise the need for early intervention and preventive measures to address dental caries in this population.” They explained that the group required comprehensive oral healthcare and educational programmes focusing on proper oral hygiene practices.

“By addressing the unique challenges faced by these children, such as limited access to care, difficulties in maintaining oral hygiene, and the need for tailored interventions, we can strive for improved oral health outcomes and enhance their overall well-being,” the authors concluded.

The study, titled “An assessment of the prevalence of dental caries, oral hygiene status, deft index, and oral hygiene habits among children with special healthcare needs”, was published online on 25 July 2023 in the Cureus Journal of Medical Science.

Editorial note:

The term “special healthcare needs” was not defined by the authors, and no information was provided about the types of disabilities of the study participants. The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention describes individuals with special healthcare needs as those who can have physical, intellectual or developmental disabilities or long-standing medical conditions, such as asthma, a blood disorder, diabetes or muscular dystrophy.

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