Oral health of young people in juvenile detention centres

K Roberts-Thomson*, AJ Spencer

Objective: To investigate the oral health of adolescents in detention, to compare it with age-matched community peers and to identify factors associated with poor health status.

Methods: The oral health survey was a component of the 2003 New South Wales Young People in Custody Health Survey, Australia. The survey consisted of a questionnaire which collected information on socio-demographic factors, perceived health status, use of services, health related behaviours and a physical examination. All adolescents in custody were invited to participate in the survey and consenting participants were examined by trained and calibrated dental therapists. Oral health data collected were dental caries at surface level, Silness and Loe plaque index, and community periodontal index. Community data were obtained from the Child Dental Health Survey (CDHS).

Results: A response rate of 76% of all available young people was obtained (242 persons), 70% of whom participated in the oral health component (169). There was no statistical difference in mean caries experience (DMFT) among adolescents in custody (JJ)and community peers (14-15yr JJ mean 1.27, CDHS 1.56; 16-17 yrs JJ mean 2.93, CDHS 2.03). Significant differences were found in periodontal pocketing, with 36% of JJ and 0.3% of CDHS having 4+mm pockets. Factors significantly associated with presence of 4+mm pockets in a multivariate analysis using logistic regression were high plaque score (OR=6.66, CI: 2.19-20.26), intake of fresh fruit less than 3 times a week (OR=2.60, CI:1.14-5.90 ), Aboriginality (OR=2.43, CI=1.04-5.67)and no dental visit in the last 12 months (OR=2.65, CI: 1.13-6.21).

Conclusion: Targetted health promotion and increased access to dental services are needed to improve the oral health of adolescents in juvenile detention.

Presented at the 84th General Session and Exhibition of the IADR, 28 June – 1 July 2006, Brisbane Australia

Note: * indicates presenter

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