Purpose: The objective of the present study was to determine the association between oral disease, access to dental care and social class in a random sample of five-year-old preschool children in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil. Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional study was carried out on a sample of 551 five-year-old children who were randomly selected from preschools. Oral health status was assessed using the decayed, missing or filled teeth (dmft) index as well as the presence of visible plaque, gingivitis and supragingival calculus. Oral examinations were performed by two examiners (j > 0.80). The clinical outcome variables were dental caries, filled and missing teeth, dental pulp exposure due to caries, dental root fragment, visible plaque, gingivitis and supragingival calculus. Social class was assessed using the City Hall database. Results: Children without caries represented 63.9% of the sample. Mean overall dmft was calculated to be 1.56, and the decayed teeth component was the highest in all of the social classes. Missing teeth, caries with pulp involvement and dental root fragment had higher proportions and the filled teeth component had the lowest proportion in children from the lowest social class. Visible dental plaque was present in 45.4% of the children. Except for the filled teeth component, all of the clinical outcome variables had a significant association with social class status (P < 0.001), regardless of childs gender. Conclusions: Oral disease in the primary dentition and access to dental treatment are affected by social and cultural factors.
Keywords: dental caries, oral health, preschool children, social class