APH 2006, 64, 251-267:

Impact of oral health behaviour and socio-economic characteristics on dental health in a cohort of Flemish and Scottish children.

D. Declerck, CM. Pine, J. Vanobbergen, L. Martens, G. Burnside

Keywords: child, dental health survey, DMF index, social conditions

Objective: The aim of this study was to compare dental health in children from two provincial cities in Scotland and Flanders (Belgium), and to investigate the contribution of reported health behaviour and
socio-demographic characteristics as explanatory variables.

Methods: Two cohorts consisting of 152 children from Dundee, Scotland and 261 children from Ghent, Flanders (Belgium) were examined at age 7 and again at age 10. Examinations for dental caries experience and oral cleanliness were undertaken to the same diagnostic criteria. Parents (or guardians) in both cities completed structured questionnaires with the same questions to obtain information on family background and oral health behaviour.

Results: There was a significant difference in the proportion of children with no caries experience in deciduous teeth at age 7, with 46% in Ghent, compared with 22% in Dundee. There was a marked difference in the numbers of extracted teeth, with children in Dundee having a mean of 1.82 extracted teeth compared to 0.08 in Ghent. This trend continued in the permanent teeth at age 10. Children in Ghent had significantly better oral cleanliness than their counterparts in Dundee despite Dundee children having better reported oral hygiene habits. In both communities, the most important explanatory factor for an increase in DMFT between 7 and 10 was deciduous caries experience
at age 7.

Conclusions: In both communities, deciduous caries experience remains the most important explanatory variable of caries in permanent teeth, although enhanced cleanliness and use of fluoride either in toothpaste or as supplements, are key moderators of risk.