Dental caries is a major public health problem in many countries. Since the last territority-wide dental survey of Hong Kong preschool children was conducted in 2001, a survey to update the information is necessary. This study aimed to describe the dental caries experience of preschool children in Hong Kong and factors affecting their dental caries status.
A stratified random sample of children from seven kindergartens in Hong Kong was surveyed in 2009. Ethical approval from IRB and parental consent was obtained. Clinical examinations of the children were performed by two calibrated examiners using disposable dental mirrors, an intra-oral LED light and ball-ended periodontal probes. A questionnaire to investigate possible explanatory factors for caries status was completed by the children’s parents. Caries experience was recorded using the dmft index. Multifactor-ANOVA was used to study the relationship between dental caries experience, and the background and oral health-related behaviours of the children.
Seven hundred children (53% boys), mean age 5.3 ± 0.7years were examined. The mean dmft score of the surveyed children was 2.2 and 51% of them had no caries experience (dmft = 0). Most (>95%) of the decayed teeth were untreated. Statistically significant correlations were found between dental caries experience of the children and their oral health-related habits, family income, parental education level and parental dental knowledge.
Early childhood dental caries was prevalent among the preschool children in Hong Kong. Their caries experience was associated with their oral health-related behaviours, socio-economic background, and parental education and dental knowledge.
Keywords: Dental caries, Oral hygiene, Oral health, Toothbrushing, Preschool children, Hong Kong, China