Purpose: The aim of this study was to assess the impact of clinical oral health conditions, and the prevalence, intensity and the impact of dental pain on daily living among 5-year-old preschool children. Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional survey was carried out on a sample of 578 children attending preschools in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Data were collected by means of a pretested questionnaire given to the parents and a visual analogue scale of faces applied to the children. The children underwent dental examinations. Results: According to the parents reports, the lifetime prevalence of dental pain was 25.0% (95% confidence interval, 95% CI = 21.4 to 28.6), and dental pain caused crying in 16.8% (95% CI = 13.6 to 19.9) of the children; 10.7% (95% CI = 8.1 to 13.3) of children had dental pain in the 2 months prior to the dental examination. Among this group of children with dental pain, 59.3% experienced a negative impact as a result of pain. The following clinical conditions had mostly caused dental pain in the 2 months prior to the dental examination: root remnants, fistula and pulp caries. This recent pain resulted in a visit to the clinician in 13.6% of the children. Conclusions: Prevalence, intensity and the impact of dental pain in 5-year-old children were high in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Dental pain assessed in the present study was associated with avoidable pathological factors. However, only few children were treated professionally for the dental pain they were experiencing. Public policies should be developed and implemented to promote fair, comprehensive treatment for the population.
Keywords: cross-sectional study, dental pain, epidemiology, paediatric dentistry