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Revista Brasileira de Epidemiologia

Print version ISSN 1415-790X

Abstract

BASTOS, João Luiz et al. Color/race inequalities in oral health among Brazilian adolescents. Rev. bras. epidemiol. [online]. 2009, vol.12, n.3, pp. 313-324. ISSN 1415-790X.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1415-790X2009000300003.

This study assessed oral health outcomes (perceived dental treatment need, untreated dental caries, gingival bleeding, periodontal pockets, and pain in teeth and gums), in relation to color/race inequalities among adolescents in each Brazilian region. The database included dental examination and interview of 16,833 15-19-year-old adolescents, surveyed by the Brazilian health authority, from May 2002 to October 2003, in accordance with international diagnostic criteria standardized by the World Health Organization. Prevalence ratios estimated by Poisson regression, and controlled by socioeconomic status and access to fluoridated piped water, assessed oral health differentials among color/race groups and country's regions. Except for periodontal pockets, prevalence figures were higher in the North and Northeast: perceived dental treatment needs, untreated dental caries, gingival bleeding at probing and pain in teeth and gums varied between 80-83%, 75-76%, 38-43%, and 17-18%, respectively, in these regions. Adolescents living in the Southeast - the richest Brazilian region - presented a better general profile of oral health than their counterparts living in the remaining regions; they had a lower prevalence of untreated dental caries (54%) and unfavorable gingival status (29%). However, the Southeast presented color/race inequalities in all oral health outcomes, with a poorer profile systematically affecting browns or blacks, depending on the oral health condition under consideration. These results reinforce the need for expanding the amplitude of health initiatives aimed at adolescent oral health. Socially appropriate health programs should concurrently aim at the reduction of levels of oral disease and its inequalities.

Keywords : Oral health; Dental caries; Adolescent; Race relations; Brazil.

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