Open Access Highly Accessed Debate

Appraisal of the national response to the caries epidemic in children in Nigeria

Morenike O Folayan1*, Nneka M Chukwumah2, Nneka Onyejaka2, Abiola A Adeniyi3 and Olubukola O Olatosi4

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Child Dental Health, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria

2 Department of Child Dental Health, Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospitals Complex, Ile-Ife, Nigeria

3 Department of Preventive Dentistry, Lagos State University College of Medicine, Ikeja, Lagos State, Nigeria

4 Department of Child Dental Health, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Idi-Araba, Lagos, Nigeria

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Oral Health 2014, 14:76  doi:10.1186/1472-6831-14-76

Published: 23 June 2014



This article reviews the caries profile for children in Nigeria and proposes an appropriate framework for addressing the silent caries epidemic.


We reviewed the caries prevalence among children in Nigeria, assessed the existing responses to the caries epidemic including the national oral healthcare delivery situation in the country and discussed the current caries management in children. We then proposed a response framework for Nigeria. We argue that successful interventions will require the adoption of a socio-ecological model. This would ensure that the micro-, meso-, exo- and macrosystems required to support the behavioural, structural and biological interventions for promoting caries prevention are addressed. National oral health surveys are required to help understand the epidemiology, social determinants of and factors that undermine the ability of children to access oral health care. A global caries prevention agenda for children would help get the government’s support for a national response agenda. Currently, there is no global call for action on the caries epidemic in children. This lack of an agenda needs to be urgently addressed.


A combination of approaches for the prevention of caries in children in Nigeria is needed. A national survey is needed to generate the needed evidence for the planning of community relevant responses to the national caries epidemic in children. The design of a global health agenda for children is an important first step that can facilitate the development of a national oral health programme for children in Nigeria.

Caries; Epidemic; Global response; Nigeria; Children