The Prevalence of Caries Free Deciduous Teeth upon Visual Examination in Kindergarten Settings: A Preventative Approach to Oral Health for Children in a Regional/Rural Community in South-West Victoria

Background: Diet and dental hygiene are major factors in the progression of dental caries. Rural areas face added complications to keep oral health a priority. Our goal is to investigate the condition of preschool children’s teeth in our regional/rural area as a guide to the success or failure of oral health messages reaching our remote regions.

Methods: Barwon Health and Colac Area Health provide oral health services to the Greater Geelong, Surfcoast Shire and Colac-Otway Shire in South-West Victoria. In 2013 an outreach program commenced promoting oral health education and dental screening to sixty kindergartens in this regional/rural area. Oral Health Therapists conducted on site dental screenings using the ICDAS recording system.

Results: The first visit by oral health therapists to children at kindergartens in 2013 (participation rate 66%) or 2014 (participation rate 71%) was analysed (n=4,383) to give a cross-section of oral health for 3-4 yr olds in the region. The overall prevalence of caries free teeth was 53.4%. The Odds Ratio for caries free teeth was reduced for postcodes linked to disadvantaged areas compared to central Geelong. There was no difference between girls having caries free teeth with 54.6% compared to 52.2% of boys (p=0.12). Of the children who received help brushing their teeth, 50.4% had caries free teeth compared to 38.6% of those who did not receive help (p<0.01).

Conclusion: We have identified a major health issue that is occurring prior to school age. While Kindergarten and Day Care Centres would be ideal links for oral health education programs and preventative measures, children supported by an adult with their dental care were more likely to have avoided decay.


Rogers MJ, Pawlak JA, Mason A, Mayze L, Sharp S and Smith M

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