To assess the prevalence of dental caries among school children in Egor local government area (district) and establish baseline data. Cross-sectional survey of urban and rural, private and public school children in Egor district, Edo State, Nigeria. A total of 358 randomly selected school children aged 12 to 15 years from urban and rural, private and public schools in Egor District were examined for dental caries according to the World Health Organization (WHO) criteria. A questionnaire was administered to elicit information from the participants on tooth cleaning, dietary habits and dental experience. An oral health campaign was conducted in the selected schools as an incentive. Data were analyzed using SPSS 7.5. Sixty-seven percent (n = 238) of the school children were caries-free. Mean DMFT score was 0.65 (sd = 1.14). Decayed teeth accounted for the largest component (98.6%). No fillings were recorded. Prevalence (mean DMFT) was higher in females (0.70) than males (0.59); urban (0.72) more than rural (0.53); private schools (0.75) more than public schools (0.55). DMFT scores at age 12, 13, 14 and 15 were 0.51, 0.63, 0.78 and 0.66 respectively; 81.4% of the school children had never visited a dental clinic, 95.8% claimed to use a toothbrush and 87.5% regularly consumed snacks. The prevalence of caries in Egor District is very low. Untreated caries indicates that preventive and restorative treatment needs are high. Dental and dietary habits are likely to increase this prevalence; hence the need for continuous monitoring, preventive and restorative programmes.
Keywords: dental caries, schoolchildren, dietary habits, tooth cleaning, Nigeria