Dental problems aplenty in students, says DHA survey

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Dental problems aplenty in students, says DHA survey

Dubai Health Authority's survey shows 80 per cent of children between 12 and 15 years have unhealthy gums.

By Asma Ali Zain/deputy Chief Reporter

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Published: Fri 20 Feb 2015, 1:43 AM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 10:41 PM

Oral health problems get worse with age and therefore educating the youth on oral health hygiene is crucial. — AFP

Oral health problems get worse with age and therefore educating the youth on oral health hygiene is crucial. — AFP 

Dubai - Parents need to pay attention to dental hygiene of children as a huge number of school-going kids suffer from unhealthy gums and dental caries, according to a survey carried out by the Dubai Health Authority (DHA).

The DHA announced on Wednesday the results of the dental survey that provides details of the oral hygiene status of Dubai schoolchildren.

The survey was conducted across 47 government and private schools in Dubai using dental mobile screening buses.

The percentage of dental caries among children aged 5 to 7 years was 65.2 per cent; among children aged 12 to 15 years was 59.2 per cent; and among children aged 15 to 17 years was 65.9 per cent, according to the survey.

At least 5,617 students underwent the screening programme.

The survey included screening programmes and clinical examinations, which were carried out by DHA dentists and hygienists, as per the World Health Organisation criteria. The decay-missing-filled teeth index (DMFT), which is one of the most common methods in oral epidemiology for assessing dental caries prevalence as well as dental treatment needs among populations, was used for this survey. Over the next five years, the DHA plans to bring down the incidence of DMFT from the current 3.8 to international levels of 0.6, according to a senior official.

Of the 5,617 students that took part in the survey, 1,939 were from governmental schools and 3,678 were from private schools.

Essa Al Maidoor, Director-General of the DHA, said: “Such surveys are vital to assess the current status of healthcare across medical fields in Dubai because then we can base our policies on concrete evidence-based data and we can benchmark ourselves internationally. This research undertaken provides us with information about the current level of oral healthcare habits of school children in Dubai.”

Dr Hamda Al Mesmar, director of dental services at the DHA, said: “Oral health problems only get worse with age and therefore educating the youth and encouraging oral health hygiene early on is crucial.”

She said the survey results point out that improved oral hygiene, a sensible approach to sugar consumption and school-based preventive programmes are essential to reduce the problem of caries among school children.

In terms of the periodontal condition of Dubai schoolchildren, she said 80 per cent children in the age group of 12 to 15 years have gingival problems, that is, they have unhealthy gums and 57 per cent of the children in the age group of 15 to 17 years have unhealthy gums.

In terms of fluorosis, Al Mesmar said in the age group of 12 to 15 years, 93 per cent of the children; and in the age group 15 to 17 years, 80 per cent of the children have no form of fluorosis.

She said oral health education and prevention sessions, school nurse training programmes and mobile dental screenings in Dubai’s schools and nurseries are some of the important programmes that will be chalked out to achieve a lower rate of DMFT among Dubai’s school children.

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