A Comparison of Dental Caries Levels in Two Communities with Different Oral Health Prevention Strategies Stratified in Different Social Classes
Objectives: To compare dental caries levels of schoolchildren stratified in different social classes whose domestic water supply had been fluoridated since birth (Dublin) with those living in an area where fluoridated salt was available (Freiburg). Methods: A representative, random sample of twelve-year-old children was examined and dental caries was recorded using World Health Organization criteria. Results: A total of 699 twelve-year-old children were examined, 377 were children in Dublin and 322 in Freiburg. In Dublin the mean decayed, missing, and filled permanent teeth (DMFT) was 0.80 and in Freiburg it was 0.69. An examination of the distribution of the DMFT score revealed that its distribution is highly positively skewed. For this reason this study provides summary analyses based on medians and inter-quartile range and nonparametric rank sum tests. In both cities caries levels of children in social class 1 (highest) were considerably lower when compared with the other social classes regardless of the fluoride intervention model used. The caries levels showed a reduced disparity between children in social class 2 (medium) and 3 (lowest) in Dublin compared with those in social class 2 and 3 in Freiburg. Conclusions: The evidence from this study confirmed that water fluoridation has reduced the gap in dental caries experience between medium and lower social classes in Dublin compared with the greater difference in caries experience between the equivalent social classes in Freiburg. The results from this study established the important role of salt fluoridation where water fluoridation is not feasible.