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ORAL HYGIENE PRACTICES AND CARIES EXPERIENCE AMONG HIGH AND LOW DENTAL FEAR PATIENTS SEEKING TREATMENT AT THE UON DENTAL HOSPITAL

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ABSTRACT

Background: Dental fear impacts greatly the urgency with which a patient seeks dental treatment and hence affects the dental health as well as the preventive aspect that may be obtained by visiting the dentist. This may also cause an increase in caries experience as well as impoverish the quality of oral hygiene practices of the individuals with dental fear.

Objective: To determine caries experience and oral hygiene practices in groups of high and low dental fear in adult patients seeking treatment at the UON Dental Hospital.

Design: This was a descriptive cross-sectional study

Study area: the Conservative Dentistry Clinic at the UON Dental Hospital.

Study participants: patients seeking treatment at The Conservative Clinic at University of Nairobi Dental Hospital

Materials and Methods: 80 patients were recruited into the study. A structured questionnaire with two parts was administered to the participants. The first part was used to collect data on oral hygiene practices. The second part was used to collect data on dental fear using Corah’s dental anxiety scale. Caries experience was measured using the DMFT index. The number of decayed, missing and filled teeth due to caries was obtained from the patient’s clinical records.

Data analysis: Data was analysed using computer aided programmes.

Results: Of the 89 participants who took part in the study, 38 (43%) were male while 51 (57%) were female. Most (52.9%) of the participants were in the age bracket of 21-30. 47 (52.8%) had a low dental fear score, while 42 (47.2%) had a high dental fear score according to the Corah’s scale. 38 (42.7%) participants with low dental fear and 38 (42.7%) participants with high dental fear said they use a conventional toothbrush to clean teeth. 50% of the participants with high dental fear said they clean their teeth once a day compared to 61.7% of participants with low dental fear who cleaned their teeth twice a day. Majority (35.7%) of participants with high dental fear said they cleaned their teeth for 2 minutes while majority (34.0) of the participants with low dental fear said they cleaned their teeth for 3 minutes.  66% of the participants with low dental fear said they practised inter dental cleaning while only 35.7% of the participants with high dental fear said they practise inter dental cleaning.   40 (44.9%) of the 89 participants of the study said they avoided some kinds of foods so as to maintain the health of their teeth; 80% of them had low dental fear while 20% had high dental fear. The mean number of decayed teeth for the group of low dental fear was 1.00 while for the group with high dental fear it was 3.48. The mean number of decayed teeth for the group of low dental fear was 0.68 while that for the group of high dental fear 1.50 while the mean for all the participants was 1.07. The group with low dental fear had a mean of  2.43 and the group of high dental fear had a mean of  0.71 and the mean number of filled teeth for all the participants was 1.62. The group with low dental fear had a mean of 0.96 decayed missing and filled teeth (DMFT) while the group with high dental fear had a mean of 1.05.

Conclusion: There are differences in the oral hygiene practices and caries experience between groups of high and low dental fear. Those with low dental fear had better oral hygiene practices and more filled teeth, and less decayed and missing teeth than groups of high dental fear.

Recommendations: Oral health education programs should be organised with an aim of reducing the amount of dental fear present in individuals so as to minimise their risk for dental caries. Oral hygiene instructions should also be given during such educational programs so as to improve on the oral hygiene practices of any individuals who might be avoiding dental treatment and missing out on the preventive and educational aspects of it.

 

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