Does your Dubai child fail global tooth test?

When applying to the teeth only (DMFT), the index indicates the number of decayed, missing and filled teeth, forming a general impression of the dental caries among a population. (Shutterstock)

The level of oral hygiene among youth in Dubai is low in comparison to global standards, and lower than desired by health organisations.

Oral hygiene levels can be measured applying the global benchmarking system called the Decayed, Missing, Filled (DMF) index.

When applying to the teeth only (DMFT), the index indicates the number of decayed, missing and filled teeth, forming a general impression of the dental caries among a population.

According to the results of a survey carried out among school children in Dubai, the DMFT among of Dubai children population is in the range of  3.8.

In the year 2000, data available for 184 countries to the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicated that in 68 per cent of the countries the average DMFT was less than 3 DMFT.

WHO has since then established it a global goal to have a DMFT lower than 3 in children up to the age of 12.

The survey carried out among schoolchildren in Dubai included 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.

Based on international benchmarking, the level of DMFT in Dubai should be reduced over the next couple of years, said health officials of the Dubai Health Authority (DHA).

“It is our aim to bring it down to 0.6 within the next three to five years,” said Hamda Al Mesmar, director of dental services at the DHA.

“This is the average in the UK and Denmark, and we are aiming for the same average.”

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

In terms of the periodontal condition of Dubai school children, she said that 80 per cent children in the age group of 12 to 15 years had unhealthy gums, while and 57 per cent of the children in the age group of 15 to 17 years had unhealthy gums.

Dental fluorosis, or the mottling of tooth enamel, was less common among the youth, as it occurred in 7 per cent of children aged 12 to 15 years, and 20 per cent of children aged  15 to 17 years, according to Al Mesmar.

“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,” commented Essa Al Maidoor, Director-General of the DHA.

“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 behaviours among school children.”

Oral health education and prevention sessions, school nurse training  programs and mobile dental screenings in Dubai’s schools and nurseries are some of the important programs that will be chalked out to achieve a lower rate of DMFT among Dubai’s school children, said Al Mesmar.

“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.”

Schools across all geographical areas of Dubai, including Hatta were part of the survey.

Of the 5617 students that took part in the survey, 1317 students were in the age group of 5 to 7 years, 2237 students were in the age group of 12 to 15 years and 2036 students were in the age group of 15 to 17 years.

Further, 1,939 were from governmental schools and 3,678 were from private schools.
 

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