OBJECTIVE: To examine the role of location in Indigenous and non-indigenous child oral health in three Australian states and territories. The association of Indigenous status and residential location with caries prevalence, severity and unmet treatment need was examined.
METHODS: Data were collected as part of a national monitoring survey of 4-14-year-old children enrolled in school dental services in New South Wales, South Australia and the Northern Territory, Australia.
RESULTS: Of the 326,099 children examined, 10,473 (3.2%) were Indigenous. Fewer 4-10-year-old rural Indigenous children were caries-free in the deciduous dentition than their non-indigenous counterparts and rural Indigenous children had almost twice the mean number of decayed, missing and filled teeth (dmft) of rural non-indigenous children. The % d/dmft was higher among rural Indigenous children than rural nonIndigenous children. Fewer 6-14-year-old rural Indigenous children were caries-free in the permanent dentition than their non-indigenous counterparts and rural Indigenous children had almost twice the mean DMFT of rural non-Indigenous children. The % D/DMFT was higher in rural Indigenous than rural non-indigenous children. Living in a rural location was the strongest indicator of caries prevalence, severity and unmet treatment need in the deciduous dentition of Indigenous 4-10-year-olds while being socially disadvantaged was the strongest indicator of poor oral health outcomes among older Indigenous and all non-Indigenous children.
CONCLUSIONS: Living in a rural location exhibited the strongest association with poor oral health outcomes for young Indigenous children but was also associated with poorer oral health among older Indigenous and non-Indigenous children
Jamieson LM, Armfield JM, Roberts-Thomson KF.
J Public Health Dent 2006;66(2):123-30