Dubai Health Authority announces results of survey on oral hygiene status of Dubai school children

DUBAI, 18th February, 2015 (WAM) — The Dubai Health Authority, DHA, announced today the results of the dental survey that provides details of the oral hygiene status of Dubai school children. The survey was conducted across 47 government and private schools in Dubai using dental mobile screening buses.

As part of the survey, 5,617 students in the age group of 5 to 7 years, 12 to 15 years and 15 to 17 years, from public and private schools in Dubai, underwent a screening programme.

The survey included screening programmes and clinical examinations which were carried out by DHA dentists and hygienists according to 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.

Schools across all geographical areas of Dubai including Hatta were part of the survey. Of the 5,617 students that took part in the survey, 1,939 were from governmental schools and 3678 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. We will now base our oral healthcare policies and preventative programmes in accordance with the results of the survey to ensure we effectively help improve oral health behaviour among school children.” Dr. Hamda Al Mesmar, Director of Dental Services at the DHA, said, “We believe that formulating preventative programmes based on scientific-evidence and research will directly help in reducing the prevalence of dental health problems among children and adolescents in Dubai.” She added that the survey was undertaken as per World Health Organisation guidelines – the age group, sample size etc. are as per the recommendations of the WHO. “Oral health problems only get worse with age and therefore educating the youth and encouraging oral health hygiene early on is crucial. Often oral health problems are neglected but parents and caregivers need to understand that common oral diseases such as dental caries and periodontitis tend to cause pain and discomfort subsequently leading to absenteeism and poor performance among pupils.” She added that 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.

She said the total number of students that took part in the survey were 5,617 students, and of these 1,317 students were in the age group of 5 to 7 years, 2,237 students were in the age group of 12 to 15 years and 2,036 students were in the age group of 15 to 17 years.

Al Mesmar added that the percentage of dental caries among children aged 5 to 7 years was 65.2 percent, children aged 12 to 15 years were 59.2 percent and among children aged 15 to 17 was 65.9 percent.

In terms of the periodontal condition of Dubai school children, she said that 80 percent children in the age group of 12 to 15 years have gingival problems i.e. they have unhealthy gums and 57 percent of the children in the age group of 15 to 17 years have unhealthy gums.

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

She said, “According to the results of the survey, the DMFT among of Dubai children population is in the range of 3.8 and it is our aim to bring it down to 0.6 within the next three to five years.” She said that 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.