Uganda 2019-2020

Undocumented children and dental age assessment

Over half of the children and refugees in Africa are unregistered and may subject to denial of basic welfare and even abuse. An individual’s age is essential for legal identity, which can be obtained via assessment of one’s dental development.

Tooth development, from initial calcification of tooth germs to complete root formation, follows a timely and sequential pattern. By assessing an individual’s developing dentition, a person’s age can be accurately identified. When compared with skeletal, somatic, sexual or psychological maturation, dental development is less likely being modulated by environmental factors and more closely related to chronological age. By differentiating each tooth developmental stage and generating a specific mathematical formula, one’s dental age and chronological age can be determined using a realistic and valid approach.

Uganda and its healthcare needs

Uganda is an east-central African country with nearly a quarter of Ugandans (8 million) living on less than $1.25 a day in 2016/2017. Diseases and illnesses is one of the detrimental cause for this deep-rooted problem, which unaffordable medical expenses and reduced family productivity due to poor health exacerbate poverty through generations.

Dental decay and oral diseases is one of the significant public health problems in Uganda. The dental caries prevalence among Ugandan adults and children aged 12 years are 66.7% and 32.5% respectively. Inadequate knowledge and awareness towards oral health, as well as limited access to dental facilities are all contributing factors towards the situation.

Uganda is also the top 3 hosting country for refugees globally, providing shelter for nearly 1.5 million refugees from South Sudan, DR Congo, Burundi and Somalia and other African countries. In Ugandan refugee camps with compromised settings, it is even more difficult for the refugees to maintain adequate oral health. From surveys performed by developed countries, over 60% of the preschool refugee children had decay and moderate to severe gingivitis, which can severely undermine their general health and quality of life. It is therefore important to promote oral health and transfer oral health knowledge to these underprivileged people in Uganda.