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SADJ. 2005 Feb;60(1):24-7.

A baseline survey: oral health status of prisoners--Western Cape.

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Department of Community Oral Health, Faculty of Dentistry, University of the Western Cape, Private Bag X1, Tygerberg.


South African prison populations continue to grow because of the escalating crime and an overstretched judicial system. The aim of this study was to assess the oral health status of prison inmates in the Western Cape (Pollsmoor, Goodwood, Paarl and Worcester). A cross-sectional epidemiological survey involving a clinical oral examination and face-to-face interviews was used to collect information on DMFT, periodontal health, perceived needs and the knowledge, attitudes and behaviour of inmates to oral health. Clinical examinations were carried out using WHO criteria. Of the 340 study participants, 264 were male and 76 were female. The prevalence of oral disease was high. The mean DMFT was 15.45 and the total DMFT increased with age. There was a reported impact on oral health quality of life, with many citing problems with eating, drinking and pain. Self-reported dental needs indicated a perceived need for dentures, scaling and fillings. Over two thirds of the sample (72%) reported that the dental services that they presently receive are poor. This study found a high prevalence of dental caries and periodontal disease among the correctional service populations. There is an urgent need for the development of a basic oral health care package that should be offered to all inmates as eventually many of them will be returning to the community.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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