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Dental health needs and related factors in inner-city Vancouver elementary school aged children Samim, Firoozeh

Abstract

Objectives: The aims of the study were: to describe the dental health and treatment needs of inner-city Vancouver elementary-school-aged children and to examine differences in dental health between socioeconomic and ethnic groups. Methods: Principals of all 10 elementary schools in inner-city Vancouver were approached. Principals of 7/10 inner-city Vancouver elementary agreed to have their schools participate in this project. Consent letters were sent to parents/guardians. The clinical data included assessment of dental health and treatment needs. Self-reported data comprised information about ethnicity, gender, place of birth, years lived in Canada, dental insurance, family education and income. Results: A total of 561 children of age 5-12 year were examined (kindergarten and grades 1-7). Of the children from ethnic minorities, 20% were Filipino, 18% south Asia and 14% Vietnamese. Overall, 57% of children had experienced caries. The mean number per child of decayed, missing or filled teeth was 2.67. In total, 32% of children needed dental treatment. Overall, there were no statistically significant differences among different demographic groups regarding dental treatment needs or dental health status, except that children born outside Canada had more decayed teeth as compared to their Canadian born counterparts. Conclusion: With the information from this study it is possible to conclude that there is a difference in dental health status between children born in Canada and foreign born children. On average, foreign born children present with poorer dental health status than their native counterparts. Further research should also aim to determine the cause of the disparity, so that a more targeted approach can be taken to improve dental health status.

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