Purpose: To determine the prevalence, severity and caries burden among children residing in eastern Trinidad. Materials and Methods: This is a cross-sectional study comprising probability, stratified, and proportionate-to-size sampling. Seven hundred and eleven school children aged six, 12 and 15 years were examined between November 1999 and January 2000 by two calibrated dentists using World Health Organization (WHO) assessment criteria. Results: Overall mean DMFT and dft scores were 1.29 ± 2.3 and 1.78 ± 3.1 while 30.4% were caries-free. At ages six, 12 and 15 years, mean DMFT scores were 0.08 ± 0.38; 2.18 ± 2.49; 2.66 ± 3.0 while dft scores were 3.74 ± 3.63; 0.14 ± 2.65; 0. Significant Caries Indices (SiC) for permanent and primary teeth were 3.75 and 5.28. Children of parents/carers with university education had the lowest DMFT/dft scores (1.0 ± 2.47/0.83 ± 1.58), treatment need (23.8%), and comprised the highest proportion of caries-free (76.2%) population. The values for father/male carer were statistically significant (p < 0.005). All four first permanent molars were decayed in 8.76%. First permanent molars were most frequently decayed in 12-year-olds (55.4%) and 15-year-olds (50.0%). Untreated caries and first permanent molar decay among six-year-olds were 84% and 8.3% respectively. Tooth mortality was 0.978 and 0.964 in permanent and primary teeth. The Restorative Indices for permanent and primary teeth were 0.02134 and 0.0213. Conclusion: Based on WHO severity criteria for the respective ages, caries experience is low in Eastern Trinidad. The mean DMFT is much lower than recently reported country data for 12-year-olds. However, the incidence is increasing. The SiC suggests that a small proportion of the population accounts for most of the decayed teeth.
Keywords: caries prevalence, caries experience, Significant Caries Index, caries burden