Background. Epidemiological studies of Aboriginal communities in Canada and Native American populations in the United States have reported that early childhood caries (ECC) is highly prevalent. The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of ECC and dental caries in the First Nations population of 3- and 5-year-old children in the District of Manitoulin, Ontario to assist in developing effective dental health promotion strategies.
Methods. All 3- and 5-year-old children in elementary schools and day-care centres in seven First Nation communities were eligible for the survey examination. Three-year-old children at home and 5-year-old children attending school off-reserve in six of the communities were also eligible for epidemiological survey examination of oral health status including caries, gingival and soft tissue conditions. Cases of ECC were defined as children with caries or restorations on two or more primary maxillary incisors or canines or those having a total decayed, missing, filled primary teeth (dmft) score of 4 or greater.
Results. A total of 87 children (59% 5 years old, 54% females) were examined. Seventy-four per cent of children had one or more carious lesions. Forty-five cases of ECC were found, a prevalence of 52%. The mean dmft score for cases was 7·5 (95% CI 6·5–8·4) and 0·8 (95% CI 0·5–1·1) for non-cases (P < 0·001). Boys in both age groups were more likely to be affected by ECC than girls.
Conclusion. Our results indicate that dental caries and ECC are highly prevalent in this population, with ECC cases having 6.7 more dmft than non-cases.