Oral health status of prison inmates--New South Wales, Australia

Aust Dent J. 2003 Mar;48(1):34-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1834-7819.2003.tb00006.x.


Background: This paper assesses the oral health status in a prison population and identifies risk factors associated with oral health.

Methods: Cross-sectional stratified random sample of 789 prisoners (657 males and 132 females) from 27 correctional centres across New South Wales, stratified by sex, age and aboriginality. A face to face interview was used to collect information on health status and behavioural risk factors. A subset of participants (312 males and 22 females) received an oral examination which enabled the decayed, missing or filled permanent teeth (DMFT) score to be calculated.

Results: In the last 12 months 391 (50 per cent) inmates had visited a dentist. Reports on treatment received at this last visit were mainly for dental examinations, (62 per cent), dental fillings, (38 per cent), and dental extractions (28 per cent). Self-reported dental needs indicated that 42 per cent perceived the need for a check-up; the perceived need for dental fillings was highest in females compared with males. The mean DMFT for the population was 20.4 and 3.4 for decayed teeth.

Conclusions: This survey demonstrates that the standard of past oral health care for prison inmates is low. There is a need to be more attentive to oral health promotion as eventually respondents will be returning to the community.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • DMF Index
  • Dental Restoration, Permanent / statistics & numerical data
  • Dentures / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mouth Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Needs Assessment / statistics & numerical data
  • New South Wales / epidemiology
  • Oral Health
  • Prisoners / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sex Factors
  • Tooth Diseases / epidemiology*