Previous toothache, dental visits and caries presence among primary school children in Dar es Salaam

  • D Maro
  • H Roberts
  • F Machibya
  • K Kahabuka
  • EA Mugonzibwa


Background: Dental pain is an ache or soreness within or around a tooth. It has a wide range of etiology, the commonest being dental caries. Dental pain is one of the main reasons for seeking dental care.

Objectives: To assess the relationship between experiences of toothache, dental visits and caries experience among primary school children in Dar es Salaam. Subjects and Methods: This was a cross-sectional study carried out among children attending standard one, two and three at Olympio primary school. Each of these classes had three streams, one stream was randomly picked and all children from selected classes who were present on the examination day were recruited. Structured questionnaires were used to interview children and clinical forms to record findings of clinical examinations which were done under natural daylight. Pain was recorded as ever had toothache or not. Those who reported history of toothache were asked whether they had ever been to a dentist due to toothache. Caries was scored according to WHO criteria, then children were categorized into caries free and having at least one DMFT. Analysis was done using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 13.0. Frequency tables were generated and Cross tabulations done. Chi- square test was employed to test statistical differences. P-value of >0.05 was set as a level of significance.

Results: A total of 203 pupils were examined, 57.1% of them being girls. One hundred and twenty (59.1%) children reported toothache experience. Majority were females (55.0%). Among the 120 who reported pain, only 76 (63.33%) had consulted a dentist for toothache. Most (70.94%) of the pupils were found with dental caries which was more prevalent (79.2%) among the children who reported pain experience, than those who did not (59%). The difference was statistically significant. There was no difference in caries presentation between the group which had seen a dentist (78.9%) and those with no history of consulting a dentist (79.5%) for toothache. Conclusion: A large proportion of children (59%) reported history of dental pain. Out of those who have had pain 63.3% had consulted a dental professional and of those who had consulted a dentist for dental pain, a significant proportion (79.2%) was found with caries.

Running title: Toothache, dental visits and caries experience


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0856-0625