Dental Health - Alternate Results

During data collection for the Toronto Public Health Student Survey, a registered dental hygienist conducted an oral assessment of every tooth in each participating student's mouth. Each tooth was coded as 'sound', 'filled', 'absent', 'decayed', or 'missing'. 

A tooth was recorded as 'absent' if it was missing congenitally, extracted for orthodontic reasons or as a result of trauma, or was an unerupted permanent tooth without a primary tooth.
A tooth was recorded as 'missing' if it was missing because of decay. Teeth missing because of decay could have either fallen out naturally due to decay or been professionally extracted because of decay.

Pages 42 and 43 of the Healthy Futures report defined 'untreated dental caries' as teeth that had decay present ('decayed') or were missing due to decay ('missing'). However, 'untreated dental caries' could be defined to include students with decay present, as professional extraction of decayed teeth constitutes a form of treatment. In the Dental Public Health community, the term 'untreated dental caries' is usually interpreted to include only those students with active decay.

Defining 'untreated dental caries' to include only those students with decay present leads to some minor changes in the findings presented on pages 42 and 43 of the Healthy Futures report. These changes are shown below and will not be made to the original report.

Although no changes will be made to the report, future analyses will use the revised definition of this indicator.

Revised Dental Caries Section
Revision Date: May 5, 2015

  • Seven percent (7%) of students had untreated dental caries.
  • Students with untreated dental caries have teeth that are currently decayed. The presence of dental caries was assessed by a registered dental hygienist.
  • There was no difference between males and females in the percent of students with dental caries.
  • There were no differences between grade groups.
  • Forty-four percent (44%) of students experienced dental caries in their lifetime. This includes teeth that presently have decay, were filled because of decay, or were removed due to decay.
  • Newcomers were more likely to have untreated dental caries than longer-term immigrants (more than five years in Canada) and Canadian-born students.

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