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Int J Dent Hyg. 2005 Aug;3(3):112-6.

Assessing the prevalence of dental caries among elementary school children in North Korea: a cross-sectional survey in the Kangwon province.

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University of California at Berkeley School of Public Health, Berkeley, CA 94704, USA.



The lack of epidemiological studies has made it difficult to assess the extent of public health problems in North Korea. In the absence of empirical data, less intrusive study designs acceptable to the North Korean government could be developed to gauge the public's health. To this end we developed a basic oral health survey in order to assess the prevalence of untreated dental caries among children.


A cross-sectional survey of 854 elementary school students was conducted in the city of Wonsan, North Korea. Students were screened and classified into one of three states of oral health: no caries, minor caries or severe dental caries. Verbal surveys were concurrently administered on children to collect basic information on oral health behaviours and demographic characteristics. Statistical analyses were performed to determine if any variables were significant predictors of oral health status category.


Among the 854 students screened, we found 255 students with no caries (29.9%), 316 students with minor caries (37.0%), and 283 students with severe caries (33.1%). The majority of students (70.1%) screened had dental caries. Almost all of the students (98.5%) claimed to brush their teeth daily and 71.2% of students visited a dentist in the past year. There were no significant predictors of oral health status.


The oral health of children in Wonsan, North Korea is comparable if not slightly better than the oral health status of children of similar age in countries with similar Social-Economic Status (SES). Basic oral health screens are useful to produce a snapshot of general oral health status among children in North Korea and may provide insight as to the general health of these children.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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