The aim of this study was to investigate oral hygiene practices and oral health care given by parents to mentally retarded children in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.Methods
A total of 140 questionnaires were distributed; only 100 questionnaires were completed and thus were included in the analysis, a 71.4% response rate. Questionnaires inquired on oral hygiene practices, supervision or assistance during tooth brushing, examination of the oral cavity, and measures taken in an event of oral health problems.Results
Sixty-five per cent of the children are able to brush their teeth, whereas 35% are brushed by a family member. About 74% of the children who brush themselves brush occasionally or once per day while 26% brush more than once per day. More than 58% of the children who brush themselves brush under supervision. A statistically significant difference was observed in respect of bleeding on brushing which was among 61% of the children who brush occasionally or once per day and among 29% of the children who brush more than once per day (Pearson χ2 = 5.13, P = 0.024). Sixty-four per cent of parents occasionally examine their children's oral cavity. Few parents take their children to a dentist in an event of toothache/cavity on a tooth (26%) or bleeding on brushing (37%).Conclusion
Most children are able to brush their teeth themselves. Majority of those who cannot brush are assisted. Bleeding on brushing and tooth cavities are common problems but few children are taken to a dentist for care.