Oral health

Dental caries and oral health behaviour situation of children, mothers and schoolteachers in Wuhan, People's Republic of China

International Dental Journal (1998) 48, 210-216
Poul Erik Petersen (Copenhagen, Denmark)
Zhou Esheng (Wuhan, PR China )


This study was undertaken in order to describe the occurrence of dental caries in Chinese schoolchildren and to highlight the oral health behaviour situation. Clinical examinations of grade 1 children (age 6, n=381) and grade 6 children (age 12, n=413) were performed. At age 6, 86 per cent of the children were affected by dental caries and at age 12 the mean DMFT index was 1.0. Personal interviews with the mothers (n=691) showed that dental care habits of children were poori 22 per cent of all children brushed their teeth twice a day and 20 per cent had seen the dentist within the pa$t 12 months. Very few children (4 per cent) had practical support from their parents in daily toothcleaning. Self-administered questionnaires for schoolteachers (n=138) revealed that most (85 per cent) are positive towards oral health education of children. Systematic school-based programmes should be implemented to promote oral health.


Many industrialised countries have experienced a decline in dental caries prevalence among children over the past decades. This trend of caries reduction may be ascribed to several factors of which the most important are improved oral hygiene, a more sensible approach to sugar consumption, effective use of fluorides, and school-based preventive programmes!. Against this, increasing levels of dental caries have been found in some developing countries, especially for those countries where preventive programmes have not been established. In the People's Republic of China, public oral health services are generally oriented towards treatment and mostly delivered from hospitals or health care centres. Since the late 1980s, the health authorities have given emphasis to preventive oral care and oral health education in order to improve the oral health behaviour of the public. With respect to the child population, behaviour modification may be a family responsibility, but oral health education could also be given by schoolteachers.

However, systematic information is scarce on the oral health status and behaviour of schoolchildren as well as the level of dental knowledge and attitudes among parents and schoolteachers. The specific aims of the present study were: to describe the occurrence of dental caries in Chinese schoolchildren aged 6 and 12; to evaluate the oral health care habits of children and mothers; and to assess the level of dental knowledge and attitudes among Chinese mothers and schoolteachers. The intention of the study was to provide baseline data for the planning and evaluation of school-based oral health promotion programmes


Oral health priority action area