Enhancing Oral Health Care Access for School Children: A Perspective.


  • McKing Amedari John D. Bower School of Population Health, UMMC
  • Michael Adedigba Obafemi Awolowo University




Oral Health Education, Diet, Hygiene, Dental Clinic Attendance, Folktales, Pupils


Inadequate access to oral health services for school children remains a pervasive issue in Nigeria. According to a study, a mere 20% of enrolled students have availed themselves of dental visits following referrals from dentists. Various barriers, such as geographical location, socioeconomic status, lack of awareness about the importance of oral health, and fear of treatment, contribute to this low utilization rate. The resulting problem exacerbates social class disparities within the country. To address this pressing concern, we conducted an exhaustive academic review encompassing peer-reviewed literature, policy documents, and other relevant materials. This review underscored three potential policy alternatives: bolstering educational campaigns on oral health, implementing mobile dental clinics, and establishing on-site school-based dental clinics—an innovative approach in the Nigerian context. Additionally, we will delve into insights from a successful case study of a model on-site school oral healthcare clinic in Ile-Ife. Recognizing that each approach comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages, we propose a concise School Oral Health Policy. This policy aims to establish a framework for incorporating these remedies efficiently, providing a comprehensive solution to the issue of insufficient availability of dental healthcare services among Nigerian school pupils.


Onyejaka NK, Folayan MO, Folaranmi N. Barriers and facilitators of dental service utilization by children aged 8 to 11 years in Enugu State, Nigeria. BMC health services research. 2016 Dec;16:1-9.

Education in Nigeria - Statistics & Facts | Statista [Internet]. [cited 2023 Jun 20]. Available from: https://www.statista.com/topics/6658/education-in-nigeria/

Machry RV, Tuchtenhagen S, Agostini BA, da Silva Teixeira CR, Piovesan C, Mendes FM, Ardenghi TM. Socioeconomic and psychosocial predictors of dental healthcare use among Brazilian preschool children. BMC Oral Health. 2013 Dec;13:1-6.

McGrath C, Bedi R, Dhawan N. Factors influencing older people's self reported use of dental services in the UK. Gerodontology. 1999 Dec;16(2):97-102.

Lopez R, Baelum V. Factors associated with dental attendance among adolescents in Santiago, Chile. BMC oral health. 2007 Dec;7(1):1-7.

Oredugba FA. Use of oral health care services and oral findings in children with special needs in Lagos, Nigeria. Special Care in Dentistry. 2006 Mar;26(2):59-65.

Akaji EA, Oredugba FA, Jeboda SO. Utilization of dental services among secondary school students in Lagos, Nigeria. Nigerian Dental Journal. 2007 Jul 1;15(2):87-91.

Folayan MO, Ozeigbe E, Oyedele T, Ola D. Factors limiting dental service utilization by pupils in Ile-Ife, Nigeria. Niger J Health Sci. 2013; 2:18-23.

Ruff RR, Senthi S, Susser SR, Tsutsui A. Oral health, academic performance, and school absenteeism in children and adolescents: A systematic review and meta-analysis. The Journal of the American Dental Association. 2019 Feb 1;150(2):111-21.

Paula JS, Mialhe FL. Impact of oral health conditions on school performance and lost school days by children and adolescents: what are the actual pieces of evidence? Brazilian Journal of Oral Sciences. 2013; 12:189-98.

Heilmann A, Tsakos G, Watt RG. Oral Health Over the Life Course. Life Course Research and Social Policies. 2015; 4:39–59.

Listl S, Galloway J, Mossey PA, Marcenes W. Global economic impact of dental diseases. Journal of Dental Research. 2015 Oct 1;94(10):1355–61.

Esan A, Folayan MO, Egbetade GO, Oyedele TA. Effect of a school‐based oral health education programme on use of recommended oral self‐care for reducing the risk of caries by children in Nigeria. International journal of paediatric dentistry. 2015 Jul;25(4):282-90.

Edomwonyi A, Adeniyi A, Adedigba M, Oyapero A. Use of teachers as agents of oral health education: Intervention study among public secondary school pupils in Lagos. Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care. 2020;9(6):2806.

Ibiyemi O, Lawal F, Osuh M, Owoaje T, Idiga E, Fagbule O, et al. Developing an Oral Hygiene Education Song for Children and Teenagers in Nigeria. International Dental Journal. 2022 Dec 1;72(6):866.

Nakre PD, Harikiran AG. Effectiveness of oral health education programs: A systematic review. J Int Soc Prev Community Dent. 2013 Jul 1;3(2):103–15.

Akera P, Kennedy SE, Obwolo MJ, Schutte AE, Lingam R, Richmond R. Primary school teachers’ contributions to oral health promotion in urban and rural areas of the Gulu District, Northern Uganda: a qualitative study. BMC Oral Health. 2022 Dec;22(1):1-4.

Bramantoro T, Santoso CM, Hariyani N, Setyowati D, Zulfiana AA, Nor NA, Nagy A, Pratamawari DN, Irmalia WR. Effectiveness of the school-based oral health promotion programmes from preschool to high school: A systematic review. PloS one. 2021 Aug 11;16(8):e0256007.

National Oral Health Policy [Internet]. [cited 2023 Nov 1]. Available from: https://www.health.gov.ng/doc/ORALHEALTHPOLICY.pdf

Implement National Oral Health Policy, NDA tasks Tinubu [Internet]. [cited 2023 Jun 21]. Available from: https://www.vanguardngr.com/2023/06/implement-national-oral-health-policy-nda-tasks-tinubu/

Rudolph MJ, Chikte UME, Lewis HA. A Mobile Dental System in Southern Africa. Journal of Public Health Dentistry. 1992 Mar 1;52(2):59–63.

Vashishtha V, Kote S, Basavaraj P, Singla A, Pandita V, Malhi RK. Reach the unreached–a systematic review on mobile dental units. Journal of clinical and diagnostic research: JCDR. 2014 Aug;8(8):ZE05.

Balogun AO, Taiwo JO, Ipeaiyeda OJ, Lawal FB, Ibiyemi O. A report on oral health delivery to rural underserved communities oyo state using the mobile dental clinic. African Journal of Oral Health. 2018 May 31;7(2):5-10.

Molete MP, Chola L, Hofman KJ. Costs of a school-based dental mobile service in South Africa. BMC Health Services Research. 2016 Oct 19;16(1).

Larsen CD, Larsen MD, Handwerker LB, Kim MS, Rosenthal M. A comparison of urban school‐and community‐based dental clinics. Journal of School Health. 2009 Mar;79(3):116-22.

Carpino R, Walker MP, Liu Y, Simmer-Beck M. Assessing the effectiveness of a school-based dental clinic on the oral health of children who lack access to dental care: a program evaluation. The Journal of School Nursing. 2017 Jun;33(3):181-8.

Amalia R, Schaub RM, Stewart RE, Widyanti N, Groothoff JW. Impact of school‐based dental program performance on the oral health‐related quality of life in children. Journal of investigative and clinical dentistry. 2017 Feb;8(1):e12179.

Culler CS, Kotelchuck M, Declercq E, Kuhlthau K, Jones K, Yoder KM. A School‐Based Dental Program Evaluation: Comparison to the Massachusetts Statewide Survey. Journal of School Health. 2017 Oct;87(10):784-9.




How to Cite

Amedari, M., & Adedigba, M. (2024). Enhancing Oral Health Care Access for School Children: A Perspective. Nigerian Dental Journal, 32(2). https://doi.org/10.61172/ndj.v32i2.279