Purpose: This study's purpose was to assess caries prevalence by means of teledentistry in 12- to 60-month old children enrolled in Early Head Start inner-city child core centers.
Methods: Images of the primary dentition were obtained by trained telehealth assistants using on intraoral camera. Images were entered into a Web-based storage and retrieval program. They were transmitted to a secure, remote-site computer and evaluated by a calibrated pediatric dentist.
Results: Of 162 children screened, 93 were caries free and 69 had early childhood caries (ECC). Of these, 28 had severe early childhood caries (S-ECC). The mean dfs score for all 162 children was 1.88. The mean dfs score for the 69 ECC children was 4.42. The mean dfs for the subgroup of 28 S-ECC children was 7.61. Caries scores of S-ECC children were statistically significantly different from caries scores of the entire cohort and from caries scores of the ECC children.
Conclusions: This study's results show that: (1) almost half of the preschoolers enrolled in the study were affected by dental caries; (2) only a few children had ever had a dental visit; and (3) teledentistry offers a potentially efficient means of screening high-risk preschool children for signs of early childhood caries.