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Oral health status of children in rural schools in Kithoka, Kenya.


Background: Oral health studies to address dental needs of children have been conducted in Nairobi, Kenya. However, limited data is available for the rural areas of Kenya. The aim of this study was to gather baseline oral health data on primary school children in the rural Kithoka community of Meru, Kenya. Methods: A cross sectional dental examination and oral health survey of 583 children, aged 3-18 years, were performed. Decayed, missing, and filled primary/permanent teeth (dmft/DMFT) values were recorded. Gingival recession ranking, a gingival inflammation index, and a fluorosis index were also employed. Children were surveyed regarding dental visits, toothbrush ownership, and oral pain. Results: The average dmft/DMFT score was 1.2, fluorosis prevalence was 29%, gingival disease prevalence was 75.1%, oral pain prevalence was 29%, and 72% of children had never been to a dentist. Conclusions: DMFT scores for Kenyan children were almost exclusively comprised of decayed teeth. This finding probably reflects the low dentist-to-population ratio and the scarcity of dentists practicing in Kenyan rural areas. Gingival disease and pain prevalence in these children were high, exceeding those reported in developed countries. The findings reflect the oral health preventive and treatment needs for children in this Kenyan region.

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