Dental fluorosis and parental knowledge of risk factors for dental fluorosis
Introduction: Dental fluorosis is a developmental disturbance of enamel that results from ingestion of high amounts of fluoride during tooth mineralization. Drinking water remains the main source of fluoride. Other sources of fluoride include infant formula, vegetables; canned fish as well as early, improper utilization of fluoridated toothpastes in children. Knowledge of risk factors in the causation of dental fluorosis may improve strategies to prevent dental fluorosis. Objective: To determine the prevalence of dental fluorosis among children aged 12-15 years old in Athi River sub-county, Machakos County, Kenya and assess the level of knowledge on risk factors for dental fluorosis among their parents. Methodology: This was a descriptive study with an analytic component. A total of 281 children aged 12-15 years attending public primary schools within Athi River sub-county, Machakos County were included. A self-administered questionnaire was send to parents for sociodemographic characteristics and oral health practices. Children whose parents consented were examined and dental fluorosis scored according to the Thylstrup and Fejerskov index. Fourty randomly selected children were requested to bring water samples from their homes. Retail stores located in the area were visited for purchase of six different brands of bottled water. These samples were sent to a certified laboratory for fluoride analysis and reported in milligrams of fluoride per litre. Data analysis: Data was entered into SPSS version 20 and analysed for means, ANOVA of means and chi-square test of significance for categorical variables. All tests for significance were set at 95% confidence level (α≤0.05). Results: A total of 314 self-administered questionnaires were send to parents together with consent forms for their children's participation in the study. Two hundred and eighty six responded positively, giving a response rate of 91%. The overall prevalence of dental fluorosis among children aged 12-15 years was 93.4% with only 6.6% (n=19) recording a TFI score of 0. About one quarter 70(24.4%) of children had severe fluorosis with TFI scores of ≥5. The mean TFI score for all children was 3.09 (SD=2.0), with males recording a mean TF score of 3.01 (SD=2.11) and females a mean TF score of 3.16 (SD=1.88). Out of 44 water samples analysed, 29 (65.9%) had a fluoride content of less than 0.6mg/l, 5 (11.4%) had fluoride content of 0.7 - 1.5mg/l while 10 (22.7%) of samples had a fluoride content ≥1.5mg/l. The highest fluoride content recorded was 9.3mg/l, with another sample reflecting 8.9mgF/l. Three of the bottled water samples had a fluoride content of less than 0.6mg/l, while the other half of the bottled water reported 0.7 - 0.8mg/l fluoride. A majority (87.8%) of parents indicated that they had noticed children with brown staining of their permanent teeth in their community. About 80% of parents thought dental fluorosis was caused by salty water, while only 12.9% correctly identified water with high fluoride content as being responsible for the discolored teeth. Conclusion: Although about one in five water sources sampled had fluoride content of ≥1.5mg/l, the prevalence of dental fluorosis in this community was very high. Parental knowledge on the risk factors for dental fluorosis was low. Further research is necessary to identify the water distribution networks to provide sound evidence for engaging with the county authorities on provision of safe drinking water to the community.