Preventive services and risk assessment strategy in South Australian school children

A Polster*, AJ Spencer.

The School Dental Services (SDS) in South Australia (SA) introduced a risk management strategy in 1990 as a means of targeting individuals at high risk to dental disease. However, several studies have suggested that high risk children may not be receiving more dental services, in particular preventive care, than other children. The aim of this study was to evaluate preventive services provided to high risk SA children. Subjects were selected from the parent study, Child Fluoride Study and were being treated in the SA SDS. The subjects were selected from both urban Adelaide and rural SA. A sample of 4297 children aged between 5 and 12 years, examined at baseline and with at least two follow-up courses of care across a 3-year (+/- 6-months) period, was included. Risk and oral health status from the examinations were matched with data on services provided from clinical records. Complete data were available on 3220 children (74.9%). The distribution by risk status at baseline examination was 19.9% low risk, 61.1% moderate risk and 19.0% high risk. High risk children received significantly more topical fluoride application, oral hygiene instruction, fissure sealants and dental health education and significantly less removal of calculus (one-way ANOVA; p<0.05). Although high risk children received more preventive care, these individuals received about one oral hygiene instruction and one dental health education session every four courses of care. This study suggests that the risk management programme is providing high risk children more preventive services, but level of care may still be too low. Supported by Channel 7 Children’s Research Foundation of SA Inc.

Presented at the 33rd Public Health Association of Australia Annual Conference, 23-26 September 2001, Sydney, Australia

Note: * indicates presenter

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