British Leprosy Relief Association
Dental health and treatment needs in people with leprosy in China
aDept. of Stomatology, the Second Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, Changsha, Hunan, P. R. China
bTianjin Baodi Hospital, Tianjin, P. R. China
cCenter for Disease Control and Prevention in Hunan Province, Changsha, Hunan, P. R. China
dCenter for Disease Control and Prevention in Jiangsu Province, Nanjing, Jiangsu, P. R. China
eHanzhong Sanatorium, Hanzhong, Shanxi, P. R. China
fDepartment for Leprosy Control, Institute of Dermatology, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, P. R. China
Correspondence to: Zhang Guocheng, Department of Leprosy Control, Institute of Dermatology, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, 12 Jiangwangmiao Road, Nanjing 210042, PR China (e-mail: email@example.com), and Feng Yunzhi, Dept. of Stomatology, the Second Xiangya Hospital of Central South University, Renmin Middle Road, Changsha 410011, PR China (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
To evaluate the dental health status and treatment needs of people affected by leprosy in China, and provide a basis for the development of national or regional dental health programmes to cover the treatment needs of this population.
A cross-sectional study with 613 former leprosy patients was carried out in six leprosy villages, in three provinces in China (Nanjing, Taixing and Jiangyan in Jiangsu Province, Hanzhong and Shangluo in Shanxi Province and Yongzhou in Hunan Province). A questionnaire about demographic and clinical data was used. The World Health Organization’s (WHO) basic methods were used to determine the tooth-based treatment needs. Periodontal status was determined by using the Community Periodontal Index of Treatment Needs (CPITN). In addition, prosthetic normative needs were assessed.
Among the 613 people affected by leprosy, there were 472 people (77%) who had never visited a dentist and 172 people (28.1%) had never brushed their teeth; 302 (49.3%) brushed their teeth once a day. However, there were 267 people (43.6%) who thought their dental health was at an average level and 108 (17.6%) thought they had good dental health. 55.6% of the subjects required dental fillings, 32.7% required pulp care and restoration, and 71.1% required extraction. On CPITN, 23.2% of the subjects scored 2, 28.6% scored three and 48.0% scored four, showing that these people required systematic periodontal treatment. In addition, 84.5% of the subjects needed normative prosthetic treatment.
Most of the subjects with leprosy in this study lacked self-care knowledge on dental health, and especially self-awareness of dental conditions. Normative treatment needs of people affected by leprosy were very high. This result calls for improved oral health education and oral health care in people with leprosy. Oral health education might preferably be integrated into already existing leprosy rehabilitation programs.