Southern China is the most prosperous part of China, but information useful for oral care planning is very limited. A large-scale epidemiological survey was conducted in 1996-97. The objectives of this report were to describe the coronal and root caries of the adult Southern Chinese and to analyze the influence of selected demographic and socio-economic factors on the disease pattern. A total sample of 1573 35- to 44-year-olds and 1515 65- to 74-year-olds from 8 urban and 8 rural survey sites in Guangdong Province participated in an oral health interview and underwent clinical examination. World Health Organization examination procedures and diagnostic criteria were used. The weighted mean DMFT scores of the middle-aged and the elderly subjects were 4.8 and 16.1, respectively. People living in rural areas had a higher DMFT score than those living in urban areas (4.9 vs. 4.3 in the 35- to 44-year-olds and 16.5 vs. 14.7 in the 65- to 74-year-olds). In both age groups, MT was the major component of the DMFT score. Analysis of covariance showed that women and those who were economically less well off had higher DMFT scores in both age groups. The weighted prevalence rates of decayed/filled roots were 12% and 37%, with a mean of 0.2 and 0.7 teeth affected, in the middle-aged and the elderly, respectively. In conclusion, socio-economic factors had a considerable effect on the dental caries status of adults in Southern China.
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