This study presents the results of an oral health epidemiological survey conducted in 1997, based on WHO criteria, in the Xavánte indigenous community of Pimentel Barbosa (or Etéñitépa), Mato Grosso State, Central Brazil. The study included 228 individuals (85% of the population) over two years of age. In about half the sample, the DMF index was less than 2, and in the 12-14-year age bracket it was 3.7. The low frequency of fillings in permanent and deciduous teeth suggests limited access to dental care services. Despite the number of sextants with bleeding and tartar, no cases of severe periodontal disease were detected (CPITN). In the community, comparison of the results of this survey with two previous surveys (1962 and 1991) showed a deterioration in oral health conditions over time and alterations in the occlusal pattern (increase in Angle class II and III). Dietary changes due to environmental and socioeconomic alterations resulting from interaction with the surrounding society, along with the lack of preventive programs, are among the causes of this deterioration in oral health among the Xavánte.