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Oral health of adolescents in the Colac‐Otway Shire

Mayze, Lara, Pawlak, Jacqui, Rogers, Margaret, Smith, Michael
TheAustralian journal of rural health 2019 v.27 no.1 pp. 93-98
World Health Organization, adolescence, adolescents, anxiety, dental caries, educational status, elementary schools, fruits, health behavior, health services, oral health, research projects, rural areas, rural health, screening, secondary education, soft drinks, students, surveys, sweets
OBJECTIVE: Altruistically, the developmental stage of adolescence poses a unique time frame to instil positive oral health behaviours. Caries are commonly associated with lower socioeconomic populations and regional or rural regions and are often prevalent in adolescents. This research project assessed the patterns of oral health and oral health behaviours of adolescents and investigated any potentially changeable behaviours or ways in which health services might support improvement in their oral health. DESIGN, SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: Adolescents aged 11–17 years were recruited from four secondary schools in the Colac‐Otway Shire (n = 143). Students were screened for dental decay and the condition of tooth surfaces was recorded. Completion of a dental anxiety screening survey and a World Health Organization oral health behaviours survey was undertaken. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Early carious lesions and advanced decay. RESULTS: Early carious lesions were found in 86 (60%) of students and more advanced decay in 39 (28%). Dental decay was associated with consuming sweets and soft drinks, irregular dental check‐ups and students whose mother's highest education level was primary school. Consuming fruit was protective against decay. CONCLUSION: This study identified that adolescents were experiencing high percentage of decay and not regularly visiting the dentist for dental screening. Programs that take the oral health therapists to regional and rural areas and lower socioeconomic areas might be warranted to target secondary schools.