Purpose: To assess the caries prevalence in 3- to 5-year-old children and determine whether urbanisation and income are associated with the dental decay status of these preschool children residing in the district of Lahore, Pakistan.
Materials and methods: Multistage random sampling was done to collect the sample of children from urban and rural areas. A list of children 3 to 5 years of age was prepared, and every 2nd child on the list was randomly selected until a total of 700 children were enrolled in the study. Lady Health Workers (LHWs) were trained to conduct this survey after permission from the pertinent authorities. The data of the children and their mothers regarding their age, gender, socioeconomic status (SES) and area of residence were collected. The caries status of children was recorded using the dmft index as per WHO criteria.
Results: The prevalence of dental caries in preschool children of Lahore was found to be 40.5%. Within this group, caries prevalence was 33.3% in 3-year-old children, 47.6% in 4-year-old children and 75% in the 5-year-old children. The mean dmft score for the entire child population was 1.85 ± 3.26. A significant association was found between caries prevalence, low socioeconomic status, female gender and rural residence.
Conclusion: Preschool children in Lahore, Pakistan have average dmft scores of 1.85 (± 3.26), which are mostly related to untreated carious lesions. Lower caries experience was found to be associated with rural residence and low family income.