Background: Dental caries is the most prevalent oral disease of childhood; however, not much attention has been given to studies on this among the rural Nigerian children.
Objectives: The aim of this study is to assess the prevalence and risk factors associated with dental caries in secondary school children residing in the rural communities of Awgu North Local Government Area, Enugu.
Methods: Stratified random sampling technique was used to select 301 students who were 11-16years of age. Trained interviewers administered semi-structured questionnaires. Two calibrated examiners examined the participants. Diagnosis of caries was based on the guidelines laid down by the World Health Organization. Oral health education component was incorporated and toothpaste tubes were given out to all participants as an incentive. Analysis of data was done using EPI-INFO version 3.3.2 and PEPI version 11.0.
Results: One hundred males (33.2%) and 201 females (66.8%) were studied, 35.5% had dental caries. Mean DMFT was 0.85 ± 1.50. Girls had significantly higher Decayed Missing and Filled Teeth (DMFT) than boys at ages 12 and 16 years (P = 0.027 and P<0.0001 respectively). Students who used fluoridated toothpaste were found to have less caries. Boys who cleaned their teeth with chewing sticks had more caries than boys who used toothbrush and paste. Decayed component accounted for 53(49.5%) of the dental caries while only (3) 2.8% of the caries were filled.
Conclusion: The prevalence of caries is low in this study, but still higher than prevalence rates reported in urban areas of Enugu States. The findings of this study could serve as a guide for planning rural community oriented oral health promotion programmes.