Objectives: This study assessed the inequality in caries distribution and the association between socioeconomic indicators and caries experience of preschool children in a city in Brazil.
Methods: A cross-sectional study in a multistage random sample of 455, 1-5-year-old children was conducted on National Children's Vaccination Day in Santa Maria, Brazil. Calibrated examiners evaluated the prevalence of dental caries and parents provided information about several socioeconomic indicators by means of a semistructured questionnaire. Data were analyzed using Poisson regression model.
Results: The caries prevalence was 23.5 percent and the means for the decayed, missing and filled primary teeth was 0.8. A high inequality in the caries distribution with Gini coefficient of 0.8 and Significant Caries Index of 2.8 was observed. The oldest children, non-white, with mothers having low level of education and from low household income had the highest prevalence of dental caries.
Conclusion: Socioeconomic factors are strong predictors for the inequality in caries distribution in Brazilian preschool children.