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Contextual and Individual Factors Associated with Dental Caries among Brazilian Adolescents: A Multilevel Study

Author(s): Cíntia Levy Matos Pedroso, Luana Leal Roberto, Alfredo Mauricio Batista De Paula, Desirée Sant’ana Haikal.

This study aimed to identify the contextual and individual factors associated with dental caries among Brazilian adolescents. This is a multilevel cross-sectional study with data from 5,445 participants of the 2010 National Oral Health Survey, and the contextual information was extracted from an official public database. The dependent variable was the number of decayed teeth, measured by the D component of the DMFT. We conducted a multilevel negative binomial regression and estimated the means ratio (MR). We observed a mean of 1.76 (±2.93) decayed teeth. Among the contextual variables, the mean number of decayed teeth was higher among adolescents living in municipalities with medium/low MHDI and lower among those living in municipalities with a higher proportion of dentists/inhabitants. Among individual variables, the number of decayed teeth was higher among older adults, who self-declared non-white, with lower income, who self-perceived need for treatment, reported pain, never went to the dentist, used the dental service for a longer time and whose appointment was due to oral problems. Dental caries among adolescents was associated with unfavorable contextual and individual conditions. There is a need to expand access to dental services, especially among the most vulnerable groups.

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