PhD Project

The impact of dental caries and its treatment under general anaesthetic on oral health-related quality of life in children

Caries InfographicPhD Student: Rebecca Knapp

Supervisors: Zoe Marshman, Fiona Gilchrist and Helen Rodd

Dental cariesDental caries (tooth decay) is a significant public health problem, with nearly 50% children in the UK affected by the time they are 8-years-old. Treatment for caries under general anaesthetic (DGA) is a relatively common procedure, particularly in young children, children with dental anxiety, those with extensive treatment requirements or for children with additional care needs. Hospital episode statistics have shown that around 50,000 children in England are admitted to hospital per year for the extraction of one or more carious teeth, at a cost of around £30 million pounds (Public Health England 2014). As well as the cost at a society level, the negative effects of dental caries on children and their families are well documented, and include physical, physiological and social impacts. Measures of oral health-related quality of life (OHRQoL) can be used to evaluate the impact of dental caries and dental treatment on everyday life from a patient’s perspective.

We conducted a systematic review of the impact of DGA treatment on children’s oral-health OHRQoL, and found overall improvements following treatment, although some subscales showed worsened OHRQoL scores. All but one of the included studies relied on parental reports of OHRQoL, which may not fully represent the views of children themselves (Knapp et al, 2016). The review highlighted the need for further research using child-reported measures to assess the impact of dental caries and its treatment, as well as research exploring the effect of different treatment approaches under DGA.

My project will therefore involve a longitudinal assessment of OHRQoL using a child-centred measure for children having treatment of dental caries under DGA.Rebecca Knapp