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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2005  |  Volume : 23  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 138-140
 

Prevalence of dental caries among school children in Kulasekharam village: A correlated prevalence survey


Department of Pedodontics, Sree Mookambika Institute of Dental Sciences, Kulasekharam, K.K. District, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
R Rajesh
Department of Pedodontics, Sree Mookambika Institute of Dental Sciences, V.P.M Hospital complex, Kulashekaram, K.K. District, Tamil Nadu - 629 161
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0970-4388.16887

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   Abstract 

The prevalence of the most common dental disease, dental caries has been a subject of intense debate due to its importance in statistical measurement and for the clinical control of this disease. Kulasekharam, a small village, situated in Kanyakumari District has a large number of hospitals and a dental college; yet the people seem to have a very poor knowledge about dental health. This prompted us to do a study among school children in the age group of 6-12 years to assess the prevalence of dental caries and to increase their awareness toward oral health. This paper further strives to find any correlation between patient awareness and prevalence of dental decay. The dental caries prevalence was noted to be low compared to the WHO-recommended values. The fluoride level was also tested and was found to be far below the optimal level.


Keywords: Dental caries, Fluoride, Gender


How to cite this article:
Joshi N, Rajesh R, Sunitha M. Prevalence of dental caries among school children in Kulasekharam village: A correlated prevalence survey. J Indian Soc Pedod Prev Dent 2005;23:138-40

How to cite this URL:
Joshi N, Rajesh R, Sunitha M. Prevalence of dental caries among school children in Kulasekharam village: A correlated prevalence survey. J Indian Soc Pedod Prev Dent [serial online] 2005 [cited 2019 Nov 16];23:138-40. Available from: http://www.jisppd.com/text.asp?2005/23/3/138/16887


Dental caries can be traced to be as old as civilization[1] with its evidence seen even in skeletal remnants of prehistoric humans. India, a developing nation has shown an inclined trend of this disease over a relatively short period of time as can be seen from the following tabulated data. [Table - 1][2] In 1940, the prevalence of dental caries in India was 55.5% and it rose to 68% in the 1960s.[3] Kulashekharam, a small village in the southern tip of India in the state of Tamil Nadu, comprising mostly of rural population untouched by any preventive and educational dental health aid expressed poor knowledge about oral hygiene awareness. Although this place has many hospitals and a dental college, data about dental caries prevalence, which is very essential to formulate an action plan to combat this disease was found missing.

The oral hygiene status of this epidemiologically untouched group was intriguing to us. This prompted us to conduct a pilot study with limited resources in a Government primary school, with the following aims and objectives:

1. To ascertain the dental caries prevalence among school children in the age group of 6-12 years.

2. To gain knowledge about their brushing habits' in between meal snacking, their knowledge about dental decay and their attitude towards dental professionals.


   Materials and Methods Top


This study was conducted at the Government Primary School, Kulashekharam, Tamil Nadu. A written consent was obtained from the school authorities and parents before the commencement of this study. Hundred and fifty children in the age group of 6-12 years were selected from the school by simple random sampling. Care was taken to include those children under same socioeconomic strata and those exhibiting similar dietary patterns. The children were examined in their respective schools in an ordinary chair in broad daylight facing away from sunlight. Examination was carried out using mouth mirror and explorer. The instruments used were sterilized after every single use. The children were asked to fill a questionnaire that included the vital statistics, their knowledge about dental decay, their brushing habits, in-between meal snacking procedure and attitude toward dentists. After the questionnaire was answered the children were examined for DMFT and deft. The water from the local well, and from the surrounding areas was collected and the fluoride level was tested at the Regional Research Laboratory, Trivandrum.

The data gathered was analysed using chi-square test in the statistical package SPSS and the results were tabulated.


   Results Top


A total of 150 children in the age group of 6-12 years with an equal distribution of 75 boys and 75 girls were included in the study. From [Table - 1], it can be observed that out of the total population, 77% of the children were affected by dental caries. Distribution according to the gender showed that 80% of the boys and 73% of girls were affected with dental caries. There was no statistically significant difference between the dental caries experience of boys and girls. Sixty-seven percent of children (57% boys and 76% girls) reported sweet snacking in between meals. Here there was a significant difference between boys and girls. Significantly higher number of boys (76%) reported a good knowledge about dental caries, whereas only 47% of the girls knew about it.

Seventy-six percent of girls amongst the total number of children and 41% of boys were scared of the dentists. However, only 59% of the total population was reportedly scared of the dentist [Table - 1]. This also showed a highly significant relationship. The mean DMFT was 1.25 for boys and 0.96 for girls, whereas deft showed ranges of 1.36 for girls and 2.09 for boys (bar diagram). The brushing habits and its association with the gender showed that when 83% of boys brushed with brush and paste, only 68% of the girls did the same. Paddy husk powder was used by 25% of girls, whereas only 9% of boys used it [Table - 2].

The water from the local areas was collected and tested to determine its fluoride content at the Regional Research Laboratory, Trivandrum, Kerala. The fluoride content was found to be 0.17 part per million.


   Discussion Top


Dental caries can be explained as a multifactorial disease influenced by intraoral and extraoral factors; various factors including age and sex is reported to influence it.[4] In the present study, however, there was no significant relation between age, sex, and the dental caries experience. But recent studies have reported variations in dental caries according to the gender and age.[5],[6] It is quiet possible that we could not ascertain any gender or age relation owing to the small sample size.

There was a significant difference between the boys and girls in their in-between meal sweet-snacking habit. Girls had a significantly higher sweet-snacking behaviour than boys (P < 0.02). However no significant relationship could be seen between the snacking habits and the prevalence of dental caries.

There was a highly significant difference among boys and girls in their knowledge about dental decay and their fear of the dentists. Boys exhibited more knowledge about dental decay and less fear toward dentists as compared to girls. The findings are not in agreement with the other study, which reported more fear among boys.[7]

As depicted in the bar diagram, it is evident that the DMFT, deft scores are below 3, as recommended by WHO.[8] Analysis of fluoride level of the local water supply well gave us a result of 0.17 parts per million which is below the optimum level recommended 1 part per million. The fact that the DMFT, deft scores are below 3 even with low fluoride level and poor oral hygiene awareness was very surprising. One reason for this finding could be because of the type of food habits. Belonging to the lower strata of society, their access to refined sweets and candies are less, and their snacks would be mostly restricted to locally made low sugar unrefined sweets. They would also be taking harder and fibrous foodstuffs, which may explain the low caries prevalence. Another interesting finding in present study is the brushing habit and its association with the gender. It points out that while 83% of the boys clean their teeth with brush and paste, only 68% of girls use brush and paste. Further, from the same table we can infer that while every fourth girl child brushes with paddy husk powder, only every tenth boy child brushes with paddy husk powder.

Although the type of food consumed can be projected as a reason for the low caries experience, it is really surprising that in a rural area with low level of dental caries awareness, and having a fluoride content below the optimal level the dental caries prevalence is less.

 
   References Top

1.National Oral Health Policy: JIDA 1986;58:397-401.  Back to cited text no. 1    
2.Chawla H.S: Dental health promotion, reaching the needy: JIDA 1985;57:387-95.  Back to cited text no. 2    
3.Oral health, ICMR Bulletin, 1994;24:4.  Back to cited text no. 3    
4.Addy M. Dummer PMH, Hunter MI, Kigdon A, Shaw WC. The effect of tooth brushing frequency, tooth brushing hand, sex, and social class on the incidence of plaque, gingivitis and pocketing in adolescents. A longitudinal cohort study. Community Development Health 1990;7:237- 47.  Back to cited text no. 4    
5.Gauba K, Tewari A, Chawla HS. Frequency distribution of children according to dental caries status in rural areas of northern India (Punjab) J Ind Dent association 1986;58,59-12.  Back to cited text no. 5    
6.Dummer MH, Addy M, Kicks R, Anne kingdom. The effect of social class on the prevalence of caries, plaque gingivitis and pocking in 11 - 12 year old children in South Wales. J Dent 1987;15;185-90.  Back to cited text no. 6    
7.Ameeta Nanda, Navin A. Ingle: Study of fear of dentistry: JIDA 2002;73:104-10.  Back to cited text no. 7    
8.Leo Polo CT. Carol man- der, Christine Utting, Kaden Watkins and Rock W.P; the world health organization goals for oral health A progress report. Community Dent Health 1991:8:245 -51.  Back to cited text no. 8    


Tables

[Table - 1], [Table - 2], [Table - 3]


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