Oral diseases and socio-demographic factors in adolescents living in Maasai population areas of Tanzania: a cross-sectional study
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Background: Oral diseases may cause serious health problems, especially in socially disadvantaged populations and in low-income countries. In populations living in the rural areas of Tanzania there is paucity of reports on oral health. The study aim was to estimate the prevalence, severity and socio-demographic distribution of oral diseases/conditions in adolescents living in Maasai population areas of Tanzania and to compare oral diseases/conditions between Maasai and non-Maasai ethnic groups. Methods: A total of 23 schools were randomly selected from 66 rural public primary schools in Monduli and Longido districts, Tanzania. All pupils in the selected classes, 6th grade, were invited to participate in the study. A total of 989 were invited and 906 (91.6%) accepted the invitation and completed an interview and a clinical oral examination. Results: Out of 906 study participants (age range 12–17 years), 721(79.6%) were from Maasai and 185 (20.4%) from non-Maasai ethnic groups. Prevalence of poor oral hygiene, gingival bleeding, dental caries experience (DMFT> 0), dental fluorosis TF grade 5–9, dental erosion (into dentin), tooth wear (into dentin) and TMD was 65.6, 40.9, 8.8, 48.6, 1.9, 16.5 and 11.8%, respectively. Multiple variable logistic regression analysis revealed that, girls (OR = 2.0) and participants from Longido (OR = 2.6) were more likely to present with good oral hygiene (p < 0.05). Adolescents from Monduli (OR = 1.7), males (OR = 2.1), being born within Arusha region (OR = 1.9) and Maasai (OR = 1.7) were more likely to present with gingival bleeding (p < 0.05). DMFT> 0 increased by age (OR = 2.0) and was associated with non-Maasai ethnic group (OR = 2.2), (p < 0.05). Adolescents from Monduli district (OR = 10.0) and those born in Arusha region (OR = 3.2) were more likely to present with dental fluorosis (p < 0.05). Dental erosion was more common among non-Maasais (OR = 2.0) as well as having mother with high education (OR = 2.3), (p < 0.05). Conclusions: Oral diseases like dental caries and dental erosion were less common, but gingival bleeding, dental fluorosis, tooth wear and TMD were common findings in adolescents attending primary schools in the Maasai population areas of Tanzania. Notable differences between Maasai and non-Maasai ethnic groups and certain correlations to sociodemographic factors were detected. Our findings can be utilized by policy makers in the planning of oral health programs in public primary schools of Maasai population areas of Tanzania.