Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 106, Issue 5, pp e308–e314 | Cite as

Dental caries disparities in early childhood: A study of kindergarten children in British Columbia

  • Brenda T. PoonEmail author
  • Paul C. Holley
  • Amber M. Louie
  • Carla M. Springinotic
Quantitative Research



The objective of this paper was to describe results of a public health-administered, provincial dental survey of children aged 4–6 years old in British Columbia, and assess the changes in rates of dental caries geographically and by neighbourhood socio-economic status between baseline (2006/07) and follow-up data collection (2009/10).


The study design involved two retrospective cohorts of kindergarten children who received a public health-administered dental assessment in the years 2006/07 and 2009/10. Neighbourhood socio-economic status was measured by an index created from Canadian Census and Tax Filer data sets. The dental outcomes included previous decay experience, untreated visible decay, and urgent treatment needs.


The analysis comprised dental outcomes for 35,602 kindergarten children in 2006/07 and 35,215 children in 2009/10. There was a modest decrease in dental decay rates between surveys, with rates of decay experience–previous and untreated–of 38.9% and 36.7% respectively. However, there were disparities, with almost 50% of children with dental decay in the most socio-economically disadvantaged neighbourhoods, and approximately 30% with dental decay in the least disadvantaged areas.


The kindergarten dental survey had extensive coverage, was at the population level, and enabled analysis of change in early childhood dental decay rates over time and by geography. Although overall rates improved, dental health inequalities persisted in both survey years at both regional and neighbourhood levels.

Key Words

Dental caries oral health child trends surveillance British Columbia 



Décrire les résultats d’une enquête dentaire provinciale de santé publique menée auprès des enfants de 4 à 6 ans en Colombie-Britannique, et évaluer les changements dans les taux de carie dentaire sur le plan géographique et selon le statut socioéconomique du quartier entre la base de référence (2006–2007) et la collecte des données de suivi (2009–2010).


Le protocole d’étude comportait deux cohortes rétrospectives d’enfants de la maternelle ayant reçu un examen dentaire administré par la santé publique en 2006–2007 et en 2009–2010. Le statut socioéconomique du quartier a été mesuré selon un indice créé à partir du Recensement canadien et des jeux de données des déclarants de l’impôt. Les résultats dentaires étaient l’expérience préalable des caries, les caries visibles non traitées et les besoins urgents de traitement.


L’analyse a porté sur les résultats dentaires de 35 602 enfants de la maternelle en 2006–2007 et de 35 215 enfants en 2009–2010. Il y a eu une baisse modeste des taux de carie dentaire entre les deux enquêtes, avec des taux d’expérience des caries–antérieures et non traitées–de 38,9 % et de 36,7 %, respectivement. Toutefois, il y a eu des disparités: près de 50 % des enfants avaient des caries dentaires dans les quartiers les plus défavorisés sur le plan socioéconomique, contre environ 30 % dans les quartiers les moins défavorisés.


L’enquête dentaire auprès des enfants de la maternelle avait une vaste couverture, elle a été menée à l’échelle de la population, et elle a permis d’analyser les changements spatiotemporels dans les taux de carie dentaire des jeunes enfants. Bien que les taux globaux se soient améliorés, les inégalités sur le plan de la santé dentaire ont subsisté au cours des deux années de l’enquête, tant à l’échelle régionale qu’à celle des quartiers.

Mots Clés

caries dentaires santé buccodentaire enfant tendances surveillance Colombie-Britannique 


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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brenda T. Poon
    • 1
    Email author
  • Paul C. Holley
    • 1
  • Amber M. Louie
    • 2
  • Carla M. Springinotic
    • 3
  1. 1.Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP), School of Population and Public Health, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Amber Louie Counselling and ConsultingVancouverCanada
  3. 3.Population and Public HealthBC Ministry of HealthVictoriaCanada

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