Academic journal article International Journal of Child Health and Human Development

Oral Health Disparities Are Profound in South Africa

Academic journal article International Journal of Child Health and Human Development

Oral Health Disparities Are Profound in South Africa

Article excerpt

The oral health status of the inhabitants of South Africa clearly demonstrates huge disparities between the various population groups. National, provincial and locally based oral health surveys consistently show that the percentage of black 6-year-old children who were caries free is well below the global and national goal of 50%. Although the decayed, missing and filled teeth (DMFT) index for the 12 year old group is below the 1.5 set by the Department of Health for this group, the Unmet Treatment Need Index shows that more than 80% of caries in children is not treated resulting in pain and sepsis, which in turn compromises general health of these children. Both curative treatment of dental caries in children and preventive services are needed but due to lack of human and material resources only a small percentage of the population has access to such services. The extraction restoration ratio is unacceptably high at about 15:1. Furthermore up to 20% of the 12 year old children have definite signs of dental fluorosis and over 30 of 12-year-old children needed definitive orthodontic intervention with treatment for both these oral problems being unaffordable for the majority of children. Despite a high standard of oral health care for 15% of the population as a whole, huge disparities exist for many racial and ethnic groups, by socioeconomic status, age and geographic location. …

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