• 1 Universiti Sains Malaysia


Dental caries is the main oral health problem in hearing-impaired (HI) children and remains the most neglected need. The present study aimed to determine caries prevalence and treatment needs in HI children and the association with salivary parameters. A cross-sectional study was conducted on 63 HI children aged between 7-14 years who attended a special school for the deaf. Clinical oral examination was done and salivary parameters (resting flow rate and resting pH) were measured. Caries experience was charted using the index of decay-filled teeth (dft) and Decay-Missing-Filled Teeth (DMFT) for primary and permanent dentition respectively. Data were analysed using SPSS version 12.0. The mean age was 11.5 (SD 2.39) years and 53.8% were female. Dental caries prevalence was 88.0% (95% Cl: 73.0, 100.0) in primary dentition and 85.0% (95% Cl: 73.0, 96.0) in permanent dentition. The mean dft was 6.1 (SD 4.14) and the mean DMFT was 4.9 (SD 3.28). The mean resting flow rate was 0.14 (SD 0.08) ml/min while mean pH was 6.8 (SD 0.79). Both pit and fissure sealants and restorations were the highest (83.1%) treatment needs. Only 3.1% of the children did not require any treatment. There were no significant association between both salivary flow rate and salivary pH with caries experience in the primary (p=0.342, p=0.610 respectively) and permanent (p= 0.99, p=0.70 respectively) teeth. In conclusion, children with HI have high caries prevalence and unmet need for dental treatments. Salivary pH and resting flow rate of the children were not associated with their caries experience.