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Int Dent J. 2016 Aug;66(4):221-8. doi: 10.1111/idj.12228. Epub 2016 Apr 15.

Community-based assessment and intervention for early childhood caries in rural El Salvador.

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University of Michigan School of Dentistry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.
Department of Biostatistics, School of Medicine, Indiana University, Indianapolis, IN, USA.
School of Public Health, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, USA.



The objectives were to assess early childhood caries (ECC) in rural areas of El Salvador and to investigate the changes in caries and mouth pain in the presence of community-based interventions.


This study was a retrospective analysis of de-identified and anonymous data obtained from baseline and four annual follow-up visits that focused on the preventive oral health intervention and nutrition in a convenience sample of children 0-6 years of age. The decayed, missing and filled teeth (dmft) index for primary teeth was used as the survey tool. Caries was defined as a cavitated lesion. Descriptive statistics were used to describe the prevalence of ECC in the sample in relation to age and dmft score. Linear mixed model analysis of variance (ANOVA) and generalised linear mixed effects models were used to compare the pre-intervention and post-intervention outcomes.


The prevalence of caries was 58%. Incorporation of a community oral health education and fluoride supplementation programme contributed to significant reductions in caries experience (from 74% to 61%) and mouth pain (from 58% to 39%), in children 3-6 years of age.


ECC is a common public health problem in rural El Salvador. In an established community-based maternal-child health programme in El Salvador, there appears to be an association between the incorporation of preventive oral health intervention and improvement in children's oral health and quality of life over time.


Mouth pain; community-based intervention; early childhood caries

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