OBJECTIVES: This study investigated socio-economic factors
associated with the placement of fissure sealants in a population
of South African adolescents.
METHOD: The study participants were high school students aged
12 to layers who provided baseline data during 2005 in a tobaccouse
prevention trial, and consented to oral examination (n=1103).
Information was obtained using a self-administered survey
questionnaire, including demographic data, data on oral health
behaviour, the employment status of parents/guardians, and
the family structure of the household and on health insurance
enrolment. The main outcome measure was the presence of
a fissure sealant on any tooth, recorded using the WHO oral
examination protocol. Data were analysed using chi-square
statistics and multiple logistic regression analysis (p<0.05).
RESULTS: Overall, only 3.5% (n=37) of the study participants had a
fissure sealant, and only 31.3% (n=345) had ever made a dental
visit. Those who had attended seeking mostly preventive care
were significantly more likely to have a fissure sealant than those
who had visited mostly when they were in pain (14.2% vs. 2.9%;
p<0.001). In the multi-variable adjusted analysis, those reporting
to have parents who are both employed (OR = 2.76; 2.26 – 3.38),
and reporting regular preventive dental visits (OR = 3.55; 2.28 –
5.58) were positively associated with receiving fissure sealant,
while those who self-identified as black (OR = 0.04; 0.01 – 0.13),
were significantly less likely to present with a fissure sealant as
compared with other ethnicity/race groups.
CONCLUSIONS: Higher socio-economic status and regular access to
preventive care were significantly associated with the placement
of fissure sealants in the studied population.