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Correlates of childhood caries: A study in Qatar.

BACKGROUND: The prevalance of dental caries in children in Qatar is high, which necessitates preventive efforts.

AIM: To identify the sociodemographic and behavioural correlates of dental caries in the primary dentition of children 4- to 8-year-olds in Qatar.

DESIGN: Weighted data from the Qatar Child Oral Health Survey 2017 were analysed for caries prevalence (dmft>0) and experience (dmft). Sociodemographic and behavioural variables were also drawn from the survey.

RESULTS AND CONCLUSION: Among the 1154 children, caries prevalence was 69.3% (95%CI [63.4, 74.5]) and experience at 3.8 dmft (95%CI [3.3, 4.2]). The prevalence ratio (PR) 0.82 (0.72, 0.94) was lower among younger than in older children; those for non-Qatari nationality Arabic PR 0.91 (0.82, 1.00) and Other PR 0.75 (0.57, 0.99) than for Qatari nationality; those attending international kindergartens/schools PR 0.89 (0.80, 0.99) than independent schools; and whose parents had university-level education PR 0.85 (0.75,0.95) than did not. Caries prevalence was lower among those toothbrushing by age 3 years PR 0.88 (0.80,0.99) than later; children with low/intermediate sugar exposures PR 0.85 (0.74,0.97) and 0.89 (0.79,1.00) than those with high exposures; children with a dental check-up PR 0.68 (0.53,0.87) than those without; and children who drank bottled water with some fluoride PR 0.89 (0.80,0.99) than those who did not. Findings were similar for dmft. In conclusion caries prevalence varied but was high across sociodemographic correlates indicating vulnerablity. Interventions focusing on behaviours - such as toothbrushing, reducing sugar intake, check-up and encouraging intake of water with fluoride - are needed.

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