Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Prevalence of dental caries among a cohort of preschool children living in Gampaha district, Sri Lanka: A descriptive cross sectional study

Priyantha J Perera12*, Nishadhi T Abeyweera2, Meranthi P Fernando13, Tania D Warnakulasuriya1 and Nayomi Ranathunga13

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Medicine, University of Kelaniya, Kelaniya, Sri Lanka

2 North Colombo Teaching Hospital Ragama, Colombo, Sri Lanka

3 Lady Ridgeway Hospital, Colombo, Sri Lanka

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BMC Oral Health 2012, 12:49  doi:10.1186/1472-6831-12-49

Published: 13 November 2012



Dental caries among young children are a global problem. Scant attention is paid towards primary teeth, leading to high prevalence of dental caries. There are only few studies done in Sri Lanka, addressing oral hygiene among preschool children. Scientific evidence is in need to persuade authorities to establish a programme promoting oral hygiene among preschool children.


A descriptive cross sectional study was conducted in Ragama Medical officer of Health area. Consecutive children between 2 – 5 years of age, attending child welfare clinics were recruited for the study. Practices related to dental hygiene and socio-economic characteristics were obtained using an interviewer administered questionnaire. Mouth was examined for evidence of dental caries. Data collection and examination were done by two doctors who were trained for this purpose. The data were analysed using SSPS version 16.


Total of 410 children were included. None had a routine visits to a dentist. Practices related to tooth brushing were satisfactory. Prevalence of dental caries gradually increased with age to reach 68.8% by 5 years. Mean total decayed-extracted-filled (deft) score for the whole sample was 1.41 and Significant caries index (SIC) was 4.09. Decayed tooth were the main contributor for the deft score and Care index was only 1.55. Girls had a significantly higher prevalence of caries than boys.


Dental care provided for Sri Lankan preschool children appears to be unsatisfactory as prevalence of dental caries among this cohort of preschool children was very high. There is an urgent need to improve dental care facilities for Sri Lankan preschool children.

Dental caries; Deft score; SIC index; Care index