AIM: To assess dental caries prevalence and dental care utilisation in pre-school children enrolled in urban childcare centres that participated in a comparative effectiveness study.
STUDY DESIGN: Cross-sectional study.
METHODS: Caries prevalence was determined in a cohort of children 12-60 months of age. Eligible children were randomised into two groups: group one received a traditional visual/tactile oral examination and group two received a teledentistry examination. Questionnaires were administered to the children’s parents/guardians to gather demographics and information about using dental and medical services.
RESULTS: Of 234 children examined, approximately 28% had caries experience. The mean dfs score was 1.56 with a range of 0-34 carious surfaces. The mean dfs score for the children examined by means of teledentistry was 1.75 and for the children examined by means of the traditional visual/tactile method mean dfs was 1.40; the means between the two groups were not significantly different. Twenty-six children showed evidence of being treated for dental caries. According to the parents, 31.5% of the children had never had a dental check-up before, only 3% of the children were lacking dental insurance and majority of the parents (92%) did not perceive accessing dental care for the children as a problem.
STATISTICS: The Wilcoxon Mann-Whitney test and the Kruskal-Wallis test were used to assess statistical differences among groups of children.
CONCLUSIONS: The data showed that 28% of the children had caries and, of these, 61% had never been treated for caries, thus indicating that continued efforts are needed to improve oral health care utilisation by inner-city preschool children.