Laura Zettler, an epidemiologist with the Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit, makes a presentation to the Chatham-Kent Board of Health in this October 2017 file photo. (File photo/Postmedia Network)
The oral health of kindergarten and Grade 2 students in Chatham-Kent has mostly been stable for the last few years, according to a recent survey, but further analysis may reveal differences between communities within the municipality.
The Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit screened all junior kindergarten, senior kindergarten and Grade 2 students in Chatham-Kent public and Catholic school boards and children in private schools which choose to participate in the program.
Laura Zettler, an epidemiologist with the health unit, said there have only been small variations since 2012, including slight declines in the prevalence of tooth decay all three grades.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say it is a significant decline,” she said. “Future years will show if we maintain that decline.”
Grade 2 students have a higher rate of tooth decay than the other two grades while JK students have a higher percentage of untreated cavities.
Zettler said the results may have reached a plateau.
“We know we are always going to find some level of decay and it’s hard to know how much we can expect to push some of these rates into a more positive direction,” she said.
The system which compiles the data also does not allow the health unit to compare its results to a provincial average, she said.
The next step is to use the results of the survey to see if there are differences between the communities of Chatham-Kent, said Zettler.
“When we talk about our overall rates staying the same, does that mean that things are staying the same or are there certain communities that are better or worse than others in terms of some of these outcomes?” she said.
Zettler said the analysis would look at potential differences between communities which have fluoridation and those which do not, such as Tilbury and Wheatley.
Another possible factor is differences in the “the socio-demographic characteristics” of each community, she said.
“Is that part of the results at all, or are results looking kind of the same across communities?” said Zettler. “That’s just something we haven’t teased out and don’t really know yet. It’s an area where we would want to look a little bit further.”
*Original article online at http://www.chathamdailynews.ca/2018/04/20/study-could-examine-fluoridation-impact