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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

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


ABREU, Mauro Henrique Nogueira Guimarães de; PORDEUS, Isabela Almeida  and  MODENA, Celina Maria. Dental caries in schoolchildren from rural communities in Itaúna (MG), Brazil. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2004, vol.16, n.5, pp.334-344. ISSN 1680-5348.

OBJECTIVE: To study the prevalence of dental caries and its association with socioeconomic variables among schoolchildren living in rural communities in Itaúna, state of Minas Gerais, Brasil, in 2002. METHODS: An epidemiological survey was carried out among 476 schoolchildren between 4 and 15 years of age. The children underwent a dental examination that was performed by a single researcher following the methodology recommended by the World Health Organization. Socioeconomic data (family income, parents' education and occupation, household source of drinking water, and the child's sex and age) were gathered through an interview with the parents. RESULTS: Over three fourths of the parents earned no more than 360 reais (R$) (approximately US$ 153) a month and reported having 4 years of schooling at most. Considering both the deciduous and permanent dentitions, 17.86% of the children were free of caries. The mean number of permanent teeth that were decayed, missing or filled, and of primary teeth that were filled or decayed and needed extraction, was 0.94 (± 1.55) and 4.00 (± 3,46), respectively. Multivariate analysis showed that among seven- and eight-year-old children whose monthly family income was above R$ 280, the risk of having caries in the primary (deciduous) dentition and in both dentitions was 2.602 (95% CI: 1.004 to 6.745) and 2.854 (95% CI: 1.044 and 7.799) times greater, respectively, than among children from lower-income families. Seven- and eight-year-old children whose mothers had completed at least 3 years of elementary school showed more than twice the risk [2.813 (95%CI: 1.221 to 6.480)] of having caries in the permanent dentition than children whose mothers had less schooling. CONCLUSIONS: In view of these results, particularly those pertaining to the primary dentition, there is an urgent need to implement community dental health strategies targeting young children in Brasil. The results suggest that in underprivileged populations, such as the inhabitants of rural communities in Itaúna, families with somewhat higher incomes and better schooling are more likely to adopt behaviors that lead to dental caries.

Keywords : Escolaridade; índice CPO; renda familiar.

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