Breaking the sound barrier: oral health education for children with hearing impairment

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Abstract

In our study, a visual oral health education (OHE) program was specially designed for children with hearing impairment. Its efficacy in improving their oral health status was evaluated after periods of reinforcement and nonreinforcement. One hundred and ten institutionalized children with moderate-to-severe hearing impairment aged 6–14 years were selected for the study. Oral health status was evaluated at the start of the study (pre-OHE level) using the Modified Gingival Index (MGI) and the Turesky–Gilmore–Glickman modification of the Quigley Hein Plaque Index (MQPI). SalivaryStreptococcus mutanslevels of the children were also evaluated. Brushing skills were assessed using the Simmons index at the start of the study. Significant decreases were observed in the mean values of both the MGI and MQPI from the baseline up to the values obtained at the end of both periods of reinforcement and nonreinforcement. Significant reduction inS. mutanscounts was observed, from Pre-OHE levels up to the levels at the end of the period of nonreinforcement. Brushing skills of children improved significantly at the end of study, notably in areas where brushing was previously deemed unsatisfactory. The OHE program specially formulated for the hearing impaired children was effective in improving their oral health status significantly.

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