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Int Dent J. 1999 Dec;49(6):322-9.

Analysis of prevalence and trends of dental caries in the Americas between the 1970s and 1990s.

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  • 1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Division of Oral Health, Chamblee, GA 30341-3717, USA.


Data on the prevalence and severity of dental caries collected by country members of the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) were summarised to analyse current status and trends since the 1970s. The mean number of decayed, missing, and filled teeth (DMF-T) among 12-year-old children and the relative contribution of each DMF-T component were collected from official reports and publications in the scientific literature. Overall, a secular trend toward lower caries prevalence was observed in most countries, more notably among those with large prevention programmes using fluorides. Many countries have reached the World Health Organization (WHO) year 2000 goal of a mean DMF-T of < or = 3 but others are still far from reaching that goal. Few countries have reached the status of having large proportions of disease prevalence localised in a small percentage of the population, a pattern observed as prevalence decreases. Since 1994, PAHO's Regional Oral Health Program has developed two strategies to address these issues: the introduction and reinforcement of national preventive programmes using fluorides and the introduction of the atraumatic restorative treatment (ART).

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