The epidemiology of dental caries in Edinburgh children: a statistical evaluation
Mansbridge, John N.
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The literature relating to the epidemiology of dental caries incidence in this country is meagre. There are several possible reasons for this. The complexity and multiplicity of clinical problems have tended to result in th concentration of research endeavour in these fields. Also, research of this nature is usually short term, therefore more productive of quick results. In contrast, epidemiological studies are time -consuming and long-term in their execution. The lack of epidemiological data in Britain is to be regretted because, in the field of medicine in general the epidemio- logical approach has been found valuable and in the study of dental caries the epidemiological method, revealing as it does group characteristics peculiar to the disease, provides additional evidence necessary for an understanding of the influences of the various environmental factors on its incidence.In this thesis the prevalence and aetiology of dental caries among school children in Edinburgh in relation to this basic distinction between tooth structure and tooth environment are investigated by examining variations of caries incidence for different biological and social groups, in particular contrasting fee-paying and non-fee-paying school children and twins in addition to the usual factors of age and sex.The absence of any published, comprehensive, epidemiological data relating to the incidence of dental disease in Scottish children provided the reason for this investigation. It was the writer's privilege to teach and to investigate the subject of prevention of dental disease and so it seemed a necessary prerequisite to obtain at first hand a wide knowledge of the dental state of the population of Edinburgh, who must invariably provide most of the material for teaching and investigation. Logically, from the very nature of dental caries, prevention must start with the child and for this reason, then, this study is confined to school children.It was decided that, to provide basic data relating to dental disease which would be reasonably consistent throughout, fresh data would have to be obtained, and that preferably only one examiner should be concerned in its collection.The objectives of this study were therefore: - (a) to obtain information relating to the incidence of dental caries in school children and, from this knowledge, to derive norms which could be used in future investigations to compare other samples of the same or different populations. (b) Similarly, to obtain data regarding the time of eruption of the permanent teeth. (c) To examine the possibility that constitutional factors as distinct from environmental factors may play some part in the incidence of dental caries and, if so, to attempt to obtain some measure of their importance. (d) To determine whether an association existed between the incidence of dental caries and socio-economic factors. (e) to examine the possible relationships that may exist between physique, in terms of height, weight and stage of maturity, and dental caries incidence. (f) Finally, from such cross- sectional data to obtain information to show what further investigations of dental caries in Edinburgh children might most profitably be undertaken.