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Niger Postgrad Med J. 2018 Oct-Dec;25(4):239-245. doi: 10.4103/npmj.npmj_138_18.

Dental caries and oral hygiene status: Survey of schoolchildren in rural communities, Southwest Nigeria.

Author information

Department of Family Dentistry, University College Hospital, Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria.
Department of Epidemiology and Medical Statistics, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria.
Department of Oral Pathology, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria.



Dental caries and poor oral hygiene cause pain and have an effect on activities of children such as playing, sleeping, eating and school attendance. Previous studies on the prevalence of dental caries and poor oral hygiene have focused more on urban than rural communities in the developing countries. The objective of the study was to assess dental caries and oral hygiene status of schoolchildren in rural communities.

Materials and Methods:

It was a cross-sectional study involving 778 schoolchildren from 12 public primary schools. A pre-tested, semi-structured interviewer-administered questionnaire was used to obtain information on socio-demographics and oral health practice. Dental caries was assessed using the decayed, missing and filled teeth (DMFT) index and oral hygiene status by the simplified oral hygiene and gingival indices.


The mean age of the children was 11.0 ± 1.8 years, and the prevalence of dental caries was 12.2% with a mean DMFT/dmft of 0.2 ± 0.7. Children aged 10-12 years were 3 times more likely to have caries on ≥1 tooth (P = 0.01, confidence interval = 1.3-6.7). Herbal remedies were more often (35.3%) used to manage dental problems. The mean simplified oral hygiene and gingival indices were 1.7 ± 0.9 and 1.1 ± 0.5, respectively.


The occurrence of dental caries appears to be increasing in rural Nigerian schoolchildren, but still within WHO limits. Oral hygiene status was poor and gingivitis was common.


Oral health; rural; schoolchildren

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