The objectives of the study were to describe the oral health status and treatment needs of the 5- to 6-year-old and 12-year-old children in Southern China; to describe the patterns of oral health behaviors, knowledge, and attitudes among the 12-year-olds; and to assess the effects of socio-behavioral factors on the 12-year-old children's dental caries experiences. The study sample was comprised of 1587 5- to 6-year-old and 1576 12-year-old urban and rual schoolchildren living in Guangdong Province. Three calibrated dentists clinically examined the children, and trained interviewers interviewed the 12-year-olds. Caries prevalence of the 5- to 6-year-old children was high (urban 78% vs. rural 86%); the mean dmft of the urban and rural children was 4.8 and 7.0, respectively. The caries prevalence and mean DMFT score of the 12-year-olds were 41% and 0.9 (urban) and 42% and 0.9 (rural). Only 2% of the 12-year-olds exhibited no calculus or gingival bleeding, while more than 70% had calculus. In conclusion, there is an urgent need for establishing caries-preventive activities for preschool children. The prevalence of caries among the 12-year-olds was not high, but their periodontal condition was unsatisfactory. Knowledge about gum bleeding and the use of fluoride was low. More oral health education activities should be organized, especially for the rural children.
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