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Keywords:

  • Dental caries;
  • age;
  • oral epidemiology

Objective

To compare levels of caries in permanent teeth between children and adults and specifically, the extent to which the decayed, missing, filled teeth (DMFT) index was greater in adults than in children.

Methods

The analysis was based on published reports from 26 countries with comparable summary data on dental caries for different World Health Organisation index ages. Reports were obtained from two large electronic databases, the World Health Organisation Oral Health Country/Area Profile Programme and the Global Burden of Disease 2010 Study.

Results

Very much higher levels of caries occurred in adults than in children in all 26 countries. For most countries, irrespective of the DMFT levels in 12-year-olds, the percentage difference in levels of DMFT between 12-year-olds and 35- to 44-year-olds was above 500% and the relative difference was 5 or more.

Conclusion

Large differences in experience of dental caries in permanent teeth were found between childhood and adulthood.