To investigate the burden of dental caries in the Western Cape by analyzing the surveillance data from 2011-2015 and to compare those findings with the data reported during the 1999-2002 National Children’s Oral Health Survey.


The findings of the study showed that the caries experience of 6-12 year old children remained high between 2002 and 2015.

In the most recent data the caries experience for 6-year old children in the Western Cape was reported to be 84%, in 2002 it was found to be 82%.  In 12-year old learners the caries experience increased from 52% to 62% in 2015.

This increase can be explained by consumption of high sugar diets and poor oral health care services. Caries can affect many aspect of life and can result in poor sleep, appetite, school behavior, eating patterns and negative self esteem. Oral health programs to promote good oral health in schools and clinics are very limited in the Western Cape.


Currently strategies are clearly failing. The following recommendations are made:

  1. Focus on oral health education at antenatal clinics and first five years of life of the child. Dental screening during immunization.
  2. Focus on mother and child care – oral hygiene of mother and child, infant feeding and nutrition of mother. No added sugar to bottle feeding.
  3. Training workshops for comprehensive creche training on oral hygiene.
  4. Life skills at primary school to include oral health education.
  5. Supervised brushing at school for Grade R, 1 and 2
  6. Fissure sealant programs focusing on feeding scheme schools attending to  6 and 7 year old children (first permanent molars) and 11 and 12 year old children (second permanent molars)
  7. Oral health education to be given during house visits
  8. Investigate which treatments are offered as part of the oral health care package at clinics

Study was published September 2017

Related Tags: Preventative Healthcare, Quality Health Services