Oral health status, treatment needs, and obstacles to dental care among noninstitutionalized children with severe mental disabilities in The Netherlands

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The objective of this study was to assess the oral health status, treatment needs, and barriers to dental care of noninstitutionalized children in The Netherlands who have severe disabilities. The oral health status of 61 children (38% female; 4-12 years of age; M = 7.7, SD = 2.2), randomly selected from seven different daycare centers, was evaluated. Caretakers (n = 126) and dentists (n = 40) completed questionnaires concerning demographic information, oral hygiene, frequency of dental visits, and possible barriers to the daily oral care of the children. Of all the children, 57.4% had untreated caries (mean dmft/DMFT = 3.0; SD = 3.1). The proportion of caries-free children was 29.5%. In comparison to Dutch children, a significantly higher proportion of children with disabilities belonging to an ethnic minority did not receive any routine dental care (53.1% and 23.8%, respectively). Caretakers considered the noncooperation of their patients as the most troublesome aspect of their daily oral care (68%). Dentists considered communication problems as the most important barrier to treatment (75%). In conclusion, Dutch noninstitu-tionalized children with severe disabilities still receive a relatively low degree of quality dental care. This is particularly true for children from ethnic minority groups.

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