Electronic Oral Health Records to Monitor Trends in Oral Health
Objectives: The last national survey of children’s oral health in the Republic of Ireland (RoI) was in 2001-2002, in 2013-2014 regional data were collected as part of the Fluoride and Caring for Children’s Teeth (FACCT) study. In the absence of data from regular oral epidemiological studies, perhaps thirteen years of service data from the electronic oral health record (EOHR) database could provide valuable information to monitor secular trends in dental caries.
Objective: To determine the value of EOHRs in monitoring secular trends in dental caries of 12-year-olds between 2001 and 2014.
Methods: Ethical approval as part of the FACCT study was granted and permission provided to examine the EOHR database and the anonymised oral health records of children who attended the public dental service (PDS) in Cork, the largest county in the RoI. Specific software queries were developed, refined and piloted to retrieve dental caries values (DMF) for children aged 11 to 13-years (12-year-olds) when they attended for an oral health assessment between 2001 and 2014. Data were extracted in Microsoft Excel, validated and exported to SAS Version 9, for statistical analysis. Epidemiological survey data for dentinal caries (cavitated and closed lesions-D3vcMFT) available for 12-year-olds in Cork for years 2001-2002 and 2013-2014 were retrieved and compared with the EOHR output for the same school years.
Results: For school years 2001-2002 through to 2013-2014, there were 38,587 EOHRs available for analysis. EOHR data indicated the proportion of 12-year-olds ‘caries-free’ in Cork for 2001-2002 was 39% increasing to 49% in 2013-2014. The epidemiological data (D3vcMFT) indicated a similar trend with 45% ‘caries-free’ in 2001-2002 and 56% in 2013-2014. EOHRs annually documented indicated the proportion caries free declined between 2001-2002 and 2007-2008, after which time the proportion ‘caries-free’ increased to 2013-2014.
Conclusions: EOHR’s are a resource to monitor trends in dental caries.