The oral health experiences and perceptions of children with disabilities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Maram Al Wadi, Sarah Ruth Baker, Janine Owens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The clinical focus on oral health means there is a scarcity of evidence from the perspectives of children with disabilities because of the continuing exclusion of their views from oral health research. This study takes a rights-based approach, aiming to give disabled children a voice by exploring their oral health perspectives and experiences.
Objectives: The aim is to include the voices of children with disabilities by representing their perspectives and experiences of oral health.
Method: An ethnographic study employed a purposive sample of ten children between the ages of 9 and 15 years with a range of intellectual disabilities and physical impairments attending special centres in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. All children in the sample were female. Pluralistic methods enabled the inclusion of children in the research. Thematic analysis analysed the data.
Results: The study describes different inclusive methods to enable children’s voices on oral health. Main themes were children’s knowledge, their oral health practices and experiences of visiting dental clinics. Children also described the physical barriers they experienced and their positive and negative feelings about oral health.
Conclusions: The study highlights that including children with disabilities in oral health research is possible, but that researchers need to be creative and be able to work in partnership with children. One goal for dental research is to include all children as active participants, working with them as collaborators. This aims to transform services and reduce children’s oral health inequalities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)856-864
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Paediatric Dentistry
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2022


  • Children with disabilities
  • Oral health
  • Dental care
  • Special care dentistry
  • Inclusion
  • Treatment experiences


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