Pan African Medical Journal

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Dental caries and oral health practices among 12 year old children in Nairobi West and Mathira West Districts, Kenya

Gladwell Gathecha, Anselimo Makokha, Peter Wanzala, Jared Omolo, Perry Smith


Background: Dental caries is a common disease in children which causes pain with resultant effect on various physiological and social functions. The main objective of the study was to determine the association between dental caries and oral health knowledge and practice among children in Nairobi West and Mathira West Districts. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted among 639 children aged 12 years attending public primary schools in Nairobi West and Mathira West districts between August 2009-February 2010. A questionnaire was used to determine the level of knowledge and practices employed. Oral screening was performed using World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended methods. Dental caries was measured using the Decayed, Missing, Filled Teeth (DMFT) index. Results: Nairobi West District had significantly higher caries prevalence of 37.5% than Mathira West District (24.0%). The DMFT in Nairobi West District was 0.76 ± 1.2, while in Mathira West District it was 0.36 ± 0.7. On multivariate analysis high consumption of soda was found to be a significant risk factor for dental caries in Nairobi West District(Odds Ratio (OR) = 3.0). In Mathira West District having an illiterate mother was a significant risk factor for dental caries (OR=4.3). Conclusion: Countrywide intensive oral health promotion should be carried out especially in urban areas, to reduce the higher prevalence of dental caries. The school health policy should be used to promote oral health by provision of oral health instructions and highlighting harmful dietary practices. Preventive practices such as regular dental checkups should be advocated and promoted in schools.

Pan African Medical Journal 2012; 12:42

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