Chepang communities are one of the most deprived ethnic communities in Nepal. According to the National Pathfinder Survey, dental caries is a highly prevalent childhood disease in Nepal. There is no data concerning the prevalence of caries along with knowledge, attitude and oral hygiene practices among Chepang schoolchildren. The objectives of this study were to 1) record the prevalence of dental caries 2) report experience of dental pain 3) evaluate knowledge, attitude and preventive practices on oral health of primary Chepang schoolchildren.
A cross sectional epidemiological study was conducted in 5 government Primary schools of remote Chandibhanjyang Village Development Committee (VDC) in Chitwan district. Ethical approval was taken from the Institutional Review Board within the Research Department of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Tribhuvan University. Consent was obtained from parents for conducting clinical examination and administrating questionnaire. Permission was taken from the school principal in all schools. Data was collected using a pretested questionnaire on 131 schoolchildren aged 8-16-year- olds attending Grade 3-5. Clinical examination was conducted on 361 school children aged 5-16 -year-olds attending grade 1-5. Criteria set by the World Health Organization (1997) was used for caries diagnosis. The questionnaires, originally constructed in English and translated into Nepali were administered to the schoolchildren by the researchers. SPSS 11software was used for data analysis.
Caries prevalence for 5-6 -year-old was above the goals recommended by WHO and Federation of Dentistry international (FDI) of less than 50% caries free children. Caries prevalence in 5-6-year-olds was 52% and 12-13-year-olds was 41%. The mean dmft/DMFT score of 5-6 -year-olds and 12 -13-year -olds was 1.59, 0.31 and 0.52, 0.84 respectively. The DMFT scores increased with age and the d/D component constituted almost the entire dmft/DMFT index. About 31% of 8-16-year-olds school children who participated in the survey reported having suffered from oral pain. Further, the need for treatment of decayed teeth was reported at 100%. About 76% children perceived teeth as an important component of general health and 75% reported it was required to eat. A total 93% children never visited a dentist or a health care service. Out of 56% children reporting cleaning their teeth daily, only 24% reported brushing their teeth twice daily. About 86% of the children reported using toothbrush and toothpaste to clean their teeth. Although 61% children reported to have received oral health education, 82% children did not know about fluoride and its benefit on dental health. About 50% children reported bacteria as the main cause of tooth decay and 23% as not brushing teeth for gingivitis. Frequency of sugar exposure was low; 75% of children reported eating sugar rich food once daily.
Caries prevalence of 5-6 -year- old Chepang school children is above the recommended target set by FDI/WHO. The study reported 31% schoolchildren aged 8-16-year old suffered oral pain and decayed component constituted almost the entire dmft/DMFT index. The brushing habit was reportedly low with only 24% of the children brushing twice daily. A nationwide scientifically proven, cost effective school based interventions is needed for prevention and control of caries in schoolchildren in Nepal.