Community Dental Health

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Cover Date:
September 2007
Print ISSN:
0265 539X

Dental caries in 5-year-old children attending multi-ethnic schools in Greater Glasgow – the impact of ethnic background and levels of deprivation

Objective To examine levels of dental caries of 5-year-olds attending multi-ethnic schools in Greater Glasgow and to explore the effects of deprived backgrounds and ethnic identity on their dental health. Design Between October 2001 and February 2002 a cross-sectional dental epidemiology survey of a sample of 721 5-year-olds was undertaken in schools having at least 25 per cent of pupils from black or minority ethnic groups. Background data on participating children were obtained from school records, including: ethnic origin, mothers’ ability to speak English, religion, and demographics. Statistical analyses included two way analysis of variance to determine the effect of ethnicity after adjusting for socio-economic factors. Results Complete data were available for 649 (90%) children. The sample broadly divided into white (52%), Pakistani (33%), and other minority ethnic groups (15%). Based on repeat observations, diagnosis reliability was good (Kappa = 0.77). The caries experience of Pakistani children (d3mft = 4.1; 95%CI 3.6 to 4.6) was significantly higher (p < 0.001) than the white children (d3mft = 2.3; 95%CI 1.9 to 2.6). Only 25% (95% CI 17 to 34) of the Pakistani children had no obvious decay, significantly lower (p < 0.001) than their white contemporaries (48%, 95% CI 39 to 58). Pakistani ethnic origin was associated with significantly higher levels of dental caries (p < 0.001), after adjusting for socio-economic deprivation. Conclusion Children from deprived backgrounds have worse dental caries levels than their affluent counterparts and, over and above this effect, minority ethnic children of Pakistani background have higher levels than their white peers.

Key words: Caries prevalence, children, ethnicity, inequalities, oral health

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D. I. Conway, I. Quarrell, D.R. McCall, H. Gilmour, R. Bedi, L.M.D. Macpherson

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