Background: Previous surveys have indicated that a majority of Indonesian children have poor oral health. However, little detailed information is available on underlying causation and none that examine impacts of oral health on child self-esteem, school performance and perceived employability. The aim of this study was to determine levels of child oral health in primary school children in Indonesia, the prevalence of key causal factors; and, to determine relationships between oral health, self-esteem and school academic performance. Methods: Cross-sectional epidemiological study in a sample (n=984) of children aged 6-7 and 10-11years old attending three public schools in Indonesia. A dental visual impact study was conducted, in which teachers reported their perceptions of the impact of child oral health on school academic performance. Oral health behaviors, self-esteem, and school performance were assessed. The children were clinically examined to measure dental caries and oral cleanliness. Results: Teachers believe that children with visually poor oral health and impaired smiles are more likely to perform poorly at school, be socially excluded and have lower job prospects than their peers with visually good oral health and healthy smiles. The percentages of children with decayed teeth were 94 and 90% in the 6-7- and 10-11-year age groups, respectively. Families reported high levels of child consumption of sugar-containing foods and drinks; many had irregular use of fluoride toothpaste. Children with substantial plaque on their teeth achieved significantly lower levels of school performance than their peers with clean teeth. Significant associations were found between school performance and self-esteem for these children. Conclusions: The study findings highlight the need for preventive care programs to improve the oral health of children in Indonesia and prospective determination of associations between child oral health; self-esteem and school academic performance.
- Oral health