Oral Health Status Of Handicapped Primary School Pupils In Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

  • EN Simon
  • MI Matee
  • MI Mathee
  • F Scheutz


Background: There is hardly any information regarding oral health status of handicapped primary school pupils in Tanzania. Determination of their oral health status could help in planning sustainable intervention programmes for this disadvantaged group. Objectives: To determine caries and periodontal status and treatment needs of handicapped primary school pupils in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Design: A descriptive cross-sectional study. Setting: Uhuru Mchanganyiko and Buguruni special schools, Dar es Salaam. Results: The sample consisted of 179 (55.8%) males and 142 (44.2%) females aged between 7 and 22 years. Majority (71%) were deaf followed by blind (17.8%) and mentally retarded (8.7%). Six (1.9%) pupils were both deaf and blind, while one (0.3%) pupil was blind and mentally retarded. Forty one (12.8%) pupils had at least one decayed deciduous tooth, with the mean (dmfs) ranging from 0.25 to 3.24. The deaf had the highest mean decayed surfaces, followed by the mentally retarded and the blind. There was only one (0.3%) pupil who had a filled deciduous tooth. Thirty three (10.3%) pupils had decayed permanent teeth and 31 (9.7%) had missing permanent teeth. None of the decayed permanent teeth were restored. The blind had the lowest mean deciduous surfaces (DS) scores of between 0 and 1.0. In the mentally retarded group the mean DS ranged from 0.25 to 1.75. About 73.5% of the studied group had bleeding of the gums, with the blind having the highest mean bleeding index scores (p < 0.001) and about 82.8% of the pupils had calculus, with highest mean scores mainly among the blind (p= 0.008). Conclusion: The caries prevalence among handicapped primary school pupils was quite low. However, there was relatively high level of gingival bleeding and calculus. Regarding treatment needs, 23% required dental fillings mainly of one and two surface restorations and 82% required scaling and polishing. Despite these treatment needs these pupils had not received any dental attention.

East African Medical Journal Vol. 85 (3) 2008: pp. 113-117

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