Oral Health Education for Children

In 2010, a team of researchers approved by the Preventive Dentistry Section of the UAE’s Ministry of Health took the task of examining the dental status of 1,340 5-year old children around the country. This was the first study to take into account children from the 7 emirates, examining 6% of the total population of 5-year old kids from both private and state schools.  The same team of researchers conducted a similar study for 12 – 15 year old schoolchildren in the UAE, discovering that 65% of all the 15-year old kids examined showed a prevalence of dental caries.

However, even before these studies were conducted, there have been efforts to understand the reasons behind tooth decay in children in wide spans across the country. In the case of Ajman, back in 2006, 76.1% of the children examined in the region were registered to have prevalent dental caries. The study also asked for socioeconomic and geographical information, in an attempt to link demographics with the presence of dental caries. However, the study concluded that due to variations in nationality, geographical location and social income, the results were not enough to determine one socioeconomic factor behind the presence of dental caries. Oral health, is indeed an issue that concerns all demographic backgrounds in the UAE.

Secondly, Dr. Hashim also concluded that with the presence of caries in children’s primary teeth, there is a higher possibility of also obtaining caries as an adult. This is because of the formation of habits that are formed during childhood but carried on to adulthood. Herein lies the importance of promoting dental education among children. Some of the biggest initiatives to do so in the UAE include the Dubai Smiles Healthy Project and the Abu Dhabi Smiles, which intend to improve the dental health of children from 6 months to 17 years old.The focus of such initiatives is in promoting dental health education to avoid the presence of caries in the first place. However, there is a particular dynamic in this kind of policy with influences the kids directly but also the parents, indirectly. Building a lifestyle that incorporates the importance of oral health in those who will become adults and in turn, parents to children, perhaps opens the possibility for dental health to stop being such an urgent issue in the UAE for both the present and future generations.