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Int Dent J. 2006 Oct;56(5):294-300.

Dental caries trends in 5- to 6-year-old and 11- to 13-year-old children in three UNICEF designated regions--Sub Saharan Africa, Middle East and North Africa, Latin America and Caribbean: 1970-2004.

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  • 1Dental Research Institute, University of the Witwatersrand, Wits, South Africa.



The aim of the study was to investigate trends in dental caries prevalence and severity in three developing regions of the world over 35 years.


A systematic review of published information.


Online databases were used to find 130 caries epidemiological studies that used WHO caries diagnostic criteria, published between 1970 and 2004 among 5- to 6-year-old and 11- to 13-year-old children. Mean caries rates were calculated in seven 5-year periods followed by plotting, and analysis of co-variance (region, period).


Trends in mean prevalence and mean dmft among 5- to 6-year-olds were confusing but among 11- to 13-year-olds were clearer. Both mean prevalence and mean DMFT were lowest in Sub-Saharan Africa and highest in Latin America and the Caribbean. Rates decreased with time in Latin America and the Caribbean and remained more or less static in the other two regions. Analysis of covariance showed a significant effect of region (P<0.01) for mean prevalence at 5- to 6-years. For mean prevalence at 11-to 13-years, as well as mean dmft and DMFT in both age groupings there were significant effects of region (P=0.01 to <0.0001) and period (P<0.05 to <0.0001).


The common perception that dental caries rates are increasing in developing countries was not supported in this systematic review.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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