Open Access Research article

Prevalence of sealants in relation to dental caries on the permanent molars of 12 and 15-year-old Greek adolescents. A national pathfinder survey

Constantine J Oulis1*, Elias D Berdouses2, Eleni Mamai-Homata3 and Argyro Polychronopoulou3

Author Affiliations

1 Associate Professor, Department of Paediatric Dentistry Dental School, University of Athens, Athens, Greece

2 Paediatric Dentist, Clinical Instructor, Department of Paediatric Dentistry, Dental School, University of Athens, Athens, Greece

3 Associate Professors, Department of Preventive and Community Dentistry, Dental School, University of Athens, Athens, Greece

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Public Health 2011, 11:100  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-100

Published: 14 February 2011

Abstract

Background

The use of sealants as an effective measure for the prevention of pit and fissure caries in children has been well documented by several studies; either they are used on an individual or on a public health basis. In order to plan and establish a national preventive program with sealants in a community, it is mandatory to know the epidemiological pattern of caries along with other variables influencing their use and effectiveness. Aims: To assess the utilization and distribution pattern of pit and fissure sealants on the first and second permanent molars of Greek adolescents and to evaluate whether the existing usage of sealants and some socio-demographic factors are correlated to caries prevalence on the population examined

Methods

A stratified cluster sample of 2481 Greek adolescents was selected according to WHO guidelines (1224 twelve and 1,257 fifteen-year-old), living in urban and rural areas in 11 districts within the country. Five calibrated examiners carried out clinical examinations, recording caries experience at the dentine threshold (BASCD criteria) and presence or absence of sealants along with Socio-demographic indicators associated with oral health. Mann Whitney and Pearson's chi-square non parametric tests were utilized for assessing the data. The level of significance was p < 0.05.

Results

Sealants utilization varied considerably within the different districts, with 8,3% of the 12 and 8,0% of the 15-year-old adolescents having at least one sealed molar. Sealants reduced DMFS scores by 11% in the 12-year-olds and by 24% in the 15-year-olds, while 15-year-old adolescents from rural areas had a statistically significant (p = 0.002) less chance of having sealants (71%) compared to children from urban areas. Girls had higher chance to receive sealants in both age groups (26% for the 12 and 19% for the 15-year-old) as well as patients that visited the dentist for prevention compared to those visiting the dentist because they thought they needed a restoration or because they were in pain.

Conclusions

The finding that sealants reduced DMFS scores despite their very low utilization, along with the high prevalence of dental caries found on the occlusal surfaces of the posterior teeth of Greek adolescents, is calling for a national preventive program with sealants which could eliminate caries to a larger extent.