Oral Health Status of Adults in Rural Meru, Kenya
Objectives: This study aimed to assess the oral health status of adults in the rural Kithoka community of Meru, Kenya. Methods: A cross-sectional study of 102 adults, aged 20-90, that consisted of an oral health survey and dental examination was performed. Clinical data on caries history was collected using the DMFT index. Data on gingival recession, gingival inflammation, and fluorosis were also collected. Results: Fifty-two percent of the population studied was female and 48% were male. Having no access to professional dental services was reported by 31% of the population. Seventy-eight percent of the population reported owning a toothbrush, while 83% of those individuals brushed daily. The average DMFT of the population was 3.9. Total DMFT comprised 58% decayed, 41.7% missing, and only 0.3% filled teeth. Eighty-one percent reported history of oral pain and 48% reported having oral pain at the time of the survey. Ten percent of the population presented with no gingival inflammation, 75% had mild-moderate inflammation, and 15% had severe inflammation; reminiscent of the natural history of periodontal disease percentages reported for untreated populations. Forty-six percent presented with varying degrees of gingival recession. Fluorosis prevalence was 22%. Conclusion: A high level of untreated dental caries, gingival inflammation, and oral pain was found in the adult population of this community. The poor dental health status of this community is further perpetuated by limited access to care, suggesting that there is a need for increased oral care and implementation of cost-effective preventive strategies in this community.