Innovation in school-level dental risk assessment: an evidence based Index of Dental Risk

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Objectives and importance of study: An increase in hospitalisations for complicated dental decay among Western Australian children, particularly those who are disadvantaged, is well documented. An informed, targeted distribution of limited resources is needed to effectively assist children who are most at risk. This study developed an integrated school-by-school Index of Dental Risk based on known primary risk variables for dental decay, poverty and Indigenous status. STUDY TYPE: Population-based research. METHODS: All data were collected from open web-based sources that were freely available, so no ethics approval was required. All data were collected in 2011 from 1112 Western Australian schools. Data included the nationally agreed Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas, and Accessibility/Remoteness Index of Australia. RESULTS: The Index of Dental Risk was categorised into four risk profiles for each Western Australian school: low (0-4), medium (5-9), medium-high (10-14) and high (15-18). We found that 57% of schools had a medium risk profile or higher (≥5). Nine schools had the highest risk category of 18. CONCLUSIONS: This study is the first to develop a simple Index of Dental Risk that can be applied at the individual school level to efficiently target resources. This evidence based resource allocation has the potential to reduce overall cost burdens of oral health-related pathology in the community.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere28341812
Journal Public Health Research & Practice
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 25 Sep 2019


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