Indigenous child oral health at a regional and state level


Dr Lisa M Jamieson, Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health, The University of Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia. Fax: +61 88303 4858; email:


Aim:  To compare the dental disease experience of Indigenous and non-Indigenous children in South Australia’s mid-north region (regional area) and to assess Indigenous oral health differences at a regional- and state-level.

Methods:  Data were collected from a School Dental Service based in an Aboriginal-owned medical health service and standard school dental clinics in the regional area from March 2001 to March 2006. State-level data were obtained over a 12-month period in 2003. Caries prevalence (per cent dmft or DMFT >0) and severity (mean dmft or DMFT, SiC and SiC10) measures were used to assess dental disease experience.

Results:  In the regional area, Indigenous children aged <10 years had 1.6, 1.9, 1.6 and 1.4 times the percent dmft >0, mean dmft, SiC primary and SiC10 primary, respectively, of their non-Indigenous counterparts, while Indigenous children aged 6+ years had 1.3, 1.7, 1.7 and 1.6 times the percent DMFT > 0, mean DMFT, SiC permanent and SiC10 permanent, respectively, of non-Indigenous children. Indigenous children in the regional area had significantly higher caries prevalence and severity than Indigenous children at a state-level.

Conclusion:  Indigenous children in South Australia’s mid-north region are dentally disadvantaged in comparison with their non-Indigenous counterparts and with the general South Australian Indigenous child population.