Anangu oral health: The status of the Indigenous population of the Anangu Pitjantjatjara lands

Objective: To describe oral health in the Anangu Pitjantjatjaraku lands in South Australia and to compare with earlier surveys and national data. Design: Descriptive. Setting: Data were collected at the time of dental care service provision, according to World Health Organization protocols, at the request of the Nganampa Health Council on optical mark reader forms. Participants: There were 356 Anangu adults and 317 children surveyed. Results: The mean number of teeth affected by dental caries in the deciduous dentition in young children, aged 5-6 years, was double (mean 3.20) that of the overall Australian child population aged 5-6 years (mean 1.44). In contrast to the decline in deciduous caries in Australian children generally, Anangu children aged 5-9 years had a 42% increase in the mean number of teeth affected since 1987. Adults experienced low levels of dental caries, but severe periodontal disease was more prevalent among diabetics (79%) compared with-non-diabetics (13.8%). Tooth loss was found more frequently among adults with diabetes (mean 5.51) than non-diabetics (mean 1.53).

Conclusions: Oral health promotion strategies, in association with general health strategies, need to be developed to improve oral health in this remote Aboriginal population.

Endean C, Roberts-Thomson K, Wooley S.

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This article was published in Australian Journal of Rural Health, 2004; 12:99-103, available online at Blackwell Synergy (

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