The impact of a school dental service on the periodontal health and oral hygiene status of 6-year-old Sowetan learners
The public oral health sector offers essentially two types of services to learners viz, (i) clinical services, where curative and restorative treatment, and prophylactic care is provided, and (ii) school-based services which focus on a primary preventive approach to oral health that consists of health promotion and specific protection initiatives e.g. brushing programmes. Learners may be exposed to a combination of clinical and school-based services or to school-based services only. The objective of this study was to compare the impact of services delivered by the public oral health sector on periodontal health and oral hygiene status of 6-year-old Sowetan learners to a control group who were not exposed to any organised oral health programme. Follow-up visits were conducted every 6 months from baseline for a period of 18 months. A significant decrease in the percentage of learners with healthy periodontal tissues and a significant increase in the percentage of learners with gingival bleeding was observed for all three cohorts. Oral hygiene performance, assessed according to the Patient Hygiene Performance (PHP) index, demonstrated no improvement after 18 months, although the mean scores remained within the 'fair' interval. No significant benefit could be demonstrated in providing a clinical services component in combination with school-based services. No significant positive impact of the brushing programme on oral hygiene and periodontal health status of learners was observed after 18 months when compared to a control group.
South African Dental Journal