Trends in dental caries experience of school children in Australia – 1977 to 1993

Data on the dental health of Australian school children from 1977 to 1985 have previously been reported. Significant features included a secular decline in caries experience as defined by the number of decayed, missing and filled teeth in both the deciduous dentition (dmft index) and permanent dentition (DMFT index), and a change in the distribution of caries experience within the child population in Australia, indicated by increasingly smaller percentages of children accounting for greater proportions of total disease experience. The aim of the present paper was to extend the annual reporting on caries experience in Australia up to and including 1993, and to document the change in the distribution of caries within the child population since 1977. In addition, the data are compared with dental targets for children for the year 2000 in Australia and internationally. Caries data were obtained for the years 1977-1993 for children who were patients at School Dental Services in each State and Territory of Australia. Caries experience was recorded by uncalibrated dentists and dental therapists during routine dental examinations. From 1977-89 data were weighted by State and Territory estimated resident populations. From 1989, the data were stratified according to age, year, and State, and weighted to reflect proportions in the national estimated resident population for each State/age stratum. Between 1977 and 1993 there has been a decline in caries experience for 6 year old children from a dift++ of 3.13 to a dmft of 1.90, and an increase in the per cent with dmft = 0 from 33.1 per cent to 53.2 per cent with dmft = 0 in 1993. Over the same time period the DMFT for 12 year olds reduced from 4.79 to 1.10 and the per cent while DMFT = 0 increased from 10.5 per cent to 53.1 per cent. Projection of the decline in DMFT indicates the dental health target for 12 year old children of DMFT = 1.0 by the year 2000 should have been achieved by the end of 1995.

Davies MJ, Spencer AJ, Slade GD

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Australian Dental Journal. 1997 Dec; 42(6): 389-94
Published by theĀ Australian Dental Association

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