MATERIALS AND METHODS: A cross-sectional study was done among 253 children of 5-, 12-, and 15-year-olds living in various orphanage houses of Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Demographic data, and dietary and oral hygiene practices were collected through a structured questionnaire. Clinical examinations of children were conducted to assess oral health status and recorded in the World Health Organization oral health assessment form (1997). Stimulated saliva was collected for S. mutans and Lactobacilli levels. The statistical software, namely, Statistical Package for the Social Sciences version 19.0 was used for the analysis of the data.
RESULTS: The final data analysis included 253 children of which 116 (45.8%) were boys and 137 (54.2%) were girls. Overall, 140 (55.33%) children were caries-free and 113 (44.66%) children presented with caries (decayed/missing/filled surface >0). High levels of salivary microbiological counts (S. mutans and Lactobacilli), i.e., ≥105, stress the importance of necessary preventive oral health services. Treatment needs among orphan children showed that most of the children, i.e., 58 (22.9%), need preventive or caries-arresting care followed by 49 (19.4%) who require two-surface filling as an immediate measure.
CONCLUSION: From the results of our study, orphan children have low utilization of preventive and therapeutic oral health services. Urgent attention is required to plan a comprehensive dental health-care program to improve their oral health status.
CLINICAL SIGNIFICANCE: Parents are the primary caretakers of children, but woefully some of them have to lead their lives without parents, the latter either being dead or incapable of bringing up their children. Such a group of children is known as orphans. As oral health is an integral part of general health, it is essential for health-care policy makers to address oral health needs of this underprivileged group of society. This article highlights the risk factors and treatment needs among orphan schoolchildren.