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Dental caries in 14- and 15-year-olds in New South Wales, Australia

09 Nov 2013

Background:
Dental caries remains one of the most common chronic diseases of adolescents. In Australia there have been few epidemiological studies of the caries experience of adolescents with most surveys focusing on children. The New South Wales (NSW) Teen Dental Survey 2010 is the second major survey undertaken by the Centre for Oral Health Strategy. The survey is part of a more systematic and efficient approach to support State and Local Health District dental service planning and will also be used for National reporting purposes.
Methods:
Data for the NSW Teen Dental Survey were collected in 2010 from a random sample of Year 9 secondary school students aged 14 to 15 years from metropolitan and non-metropolitan schools under the jurisdiction of the NSW Department of Education and Training, the Catholic Education Commission and Independent Schools in New South Wales. Nineteen calibrated examiners performed 1269 clinical examinations at a total of 84 secondary schools across NSW. The survey was accompanied by a questionnaire looking at oral health related behaviours, risk factors and the usage of the Medicare Teen Dental Plan.
Results:
175 schools were contacted, with 84 (48%) accepting the invitation to participate in the study. A total of 5,357 student consent forms and parent information packages were sent out and 1,256 students were examined; leading to a student participation rate of 23%. The survey reported a mean DMFT for 14 and 15 year olds of 1.2 and it was identified that 45.4% of students had an experience of dental caries. Major variations in caries experience reported occurred by remoteness, water fluoridation status, socio-economic status and household income levels.
Conclusions:
The NSW Teen Dental Survey provided state-wide data that will contribute to the national picture on adolescent oral health. The mean DMFT score of 1.2 is similar to the national caries experience data for this age group from the Australian Child Dental Health Survey in 2009.

Date: 
9 November 2013

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