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Dental Care and Oral Health Behaviour among Juniors in the City of Tirana, Albania

Arben Muçaj

Abstract


Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence of dental caries experience among 7-14 year old children in Tirana, Albania, and its relationship with tooth brushing, flossing, sweet consumption, and dental visits. Materials and methods: In this cross-sectional study, 7-14 year old children (N=372) were selected from three schools in three different areas of Tirana using cluster sampling. Participants’ dental status was evaluated using the 1997 World Health Organization caries diagnostic criteria for Decayed, Missing, or Filled Teeth/Surfaces (DMFT, DMFS) by four calibrated examiners. A questionnaire on oral health behaviors was completed by each participant. Ethical approval was obtained from the Albanian Ministry of Health. Informed consent was obtained from the parents by the principals of schools concerned. Results: The total number of children in the sample was 372, comprising 195 (52.4%) females and 177 (47.6%) males. Responses to the questions on sweets (chocolates, cookies) and soft-drink consumption indicated that only 45 (12.1%) for sweets and 69 (18.5%) for soft drinks participants did not use products on a daily basis whereas 325 (87.9%) sweets and 303 (81.5%) (soft drinks) consumed them regularly. Three hundred and twenty-five (87%) participants reported consuming sweets every day and only 250 (67%) reported brushing their teeth at least once a day. The children reported making frequent visits to a dentist, often for relief of pain. Conclusions: Dental caries experience was seen to be high among 7–14 year old children in Tirana, Albania. This is a challenge for the Dental Public Health Service to improve access to dental care and start preventive programs.

Keywords: Caries, oral health behavior, dental caries, children.


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