Time Absent from School due to Dental Conditions and Dental Care in Thai Schoolchildren

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Abstract

Objectives:

To assess the number of school hours missed for dental reasons per 1,000 grade 5 primary school children in 1 school year and compare dentally related school absences with those related to medical and social reasons.

Methods:

A longitudinal study using a multistage sampling technique was carried out on a sample of 1,211 children attending schools in Lampang province, Thailand. Data on absence were collected from daily school attendance records for 1 year and from children and parents questionnaires and school dental clinic records. Clinical examinations were done using the World Health Organization criteria.

Results:

A total of 1,158 children (response rate: 95.7 percent) aged 9 to 13 years were examined and returned completed questionnaires. Their caries level was relatively low (DMFT 1.4 ± 1.7). The children (22.5 percent) reported school absence for any dental reason. The mean number of hours of school absence per year for dental care was 434 hours per 1,000 children (613 hours per 1,000 children when dental screening was included). Among those who actually missed school for dental reasons, the numbers of hours missed were 1,923 hours per 1,000 children.

Conclusions:

The level of school absence for dental-related conditions and care was low per child but cumulatively was considerable. The time missed because of dental reasons was substantially less than the time missed because of other health and social reasons.

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