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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 1680-5348Print version ISSN 1020-4989


PERES, Marco Aurélio et al. The association between socioeconomic development at the town level and the distribution of dental caries in Brazilian children. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2003, vol.14, n.3, pp.149-157. ISSN 1680-5348.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the association between dental caries among children in the state of São Paulo, Brazil, and town-level indices of socioeconomic development. METHODS: We examined 15 385 oral-examination records from children aged 5 or 6 years old from 129 towns and cities in the state of São Paulo. We studied two outcomes: (1) the mean number of decayed, missing, and filled deciduous teeth (dmft index) and (2) the care index, which is the proportion of decayed teeth that have already been filled. The explanatory variables were the child development index, human development index, illiteracy rate among subjects older than 20 years, household income, Gini coefficient, insufficient income, fluoridated water supply, number of dentists per 10 000 inhabitants, number of dentists in the public service per 10 000 inhabitants, and number of weekly hours of dentist work in the public service per 10 000 inhabitants. Multiple linear regression models were fitted to the two outcome variables (dmft index and care index). RESULTS: The multiple linear regression analysis showed that a higher dmft index was associated with a low child development index, a high illiteracy rate, and an unfluoridated water supply. The child development index was significantly associated with the care index, and the number of dentists in the public service per 10 000 inhabitants showed borderline statistical significance. CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate that town-level indices of socioeconomic status are significantly correlated with caries indices. Our results also emphasize the beneficial effect that fluoridating water has on reducing the prevalence of dental caries and the fact that strategies for treating and preventing oral diseases should be emphasized within the context of overall health promotion for children.

Keywords : Dental caries; dental care; socioeconomic factors; Brazil.

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