Unmet Dental Needs in Children Following Suspension of School-Based Oral Health Services Due to COVID-19.

Unmet Dental Needs in Children Following Suspension of School-Based Oral Health Services Due to COVID-19.

Publication date: Jan 17, 2024

Dental caries (tooth decay) is the world’s most prevalent noncommunicable disease and can lead to pain, infection, and edentulism. Many children with caries lack access to traditional dental services. School-based caries prevention can increase access to care and reduce health inequities. Disruptions in school-based care due to pandemic control policies may result in children losing access to their primary dental care option. The CariedAway project was a school-based caries prevention program in operation from 2019 to 2023 in urban schools with a high proportion of low-income, minority students. Program operations were suspended for 2 years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We estimated the prevalence of untreated decay, swelling, fistula, and pulpal involvement in participants at baseline and again after restrictions were lifted. A total of 2998 children between the ages of 5 and 13 years were enrolled and received preventive care prior to pandemic shutdowns, and 1398 (47%) completed a follow-up observation after 2 years. At baseline, approximately 30% had untreated caries on any dentition, 11% of children presented with evidence of dental sealants, and no participants had swelling, fistula, or pulpal involvement. After 24 months, 12% of participants had swelling fistula, or pulpal involvement that was not treated during the pandemic period. There are considerable unmet dental needs in high-risk children that may be further exacerbated by a lack of access to care during disease outbreaks.

Concepts Keywords
13years chronic diseases
Dental dental health
Edentulism health services
Pandemic school
Students

Semantics

Type Source Name
disease MESH Oral Health
disease MESH COVID-19
disease MESH Dental caries
disease MESH noncommunicable disease
disease MESH infection
disease VO LACK
disease MESH fistula
disease MESH chronic diseases

Original Article

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