Effectiveness of an oral health education programme in primary schools in Zimbabwe after 3.5 years.
SourceCommunity Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology, 29, 4, (2001), pp. 253--9
Article / Letter to editor
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Preventative Restorative Dentistry
Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology
SubjectDental epidemiology and oral health services; Tandheelkundige epidemiologie en gezondheidszorg
Many medical and dental professionals in African nations believe that school teachers, through attendance of a short workshop, can be trained to provide oral health education. This increases the number of professionals available and is regarded as an important way forward in improving oral health. OBJECTIVES: The current study assesses the effectiveness of an oral health education programme administered by schoolteachers in a district in Zimbabwe over a period of 3.5 years. METHODS: The experimental group consisted of schools that had sent representatives to a regional workshop on oral health held in 1992. The control group was selected at random from schools not having attended the workshop. A total number of 439 boys and 526 girls were examined in 1992. Follow-up evaluations were carried out in 1993, 1994 and 1996. The dependent variables were plaque accumulation and caries increment in grade 2 and grade 4 children of experimental and control schools. RESULTS: ANOVA test with year of evaluation (1992-94), experiment/control school, age and gender as independent variables showed no statistically significant difference in mean plaque scores in longitudinally examined original grade 2 (P>0.20) and grade 4 children (P=0.06) from experimental and control schools. The mean caries increment score in the experimental and control schools was 0.04 and 0.19, respectively. ANOVA test with fluoride levels and gender as independent variables on caries increment in experimental and control schools did not show a statistically significant difference (P=0.06). CONCLUSION: The one-time training of teachers in aspects of oral health was ineffective in lowering plaque levels over a period of 3.5 years. Considering the low caries increment observed over the study period, the effect of the oral health programme on caries levels in the study group was inconclusive.
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