The dental health status of five-year-old children in North and West Belfast

R. Freeman, B. Breistein, A. McQueen, M. Stewart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To investigate the influence of social deprivation upon the diet, dental health behaviours and dental health status of five-year-old children in Northern Ireland.

Design: Cross-sectional study. Setting: Fifty-eight primary schools in North and West Belfast.

Subjects: A nine per cent (240) random sample of 2,666 five-year-old children resident and attending school in North and West Belfast.

Main outcome measures: Dental health status measured by dmft index: parental assessments of the child's dental health behaviours; parental dental attendance patterns and attitudes towards dental health; parental assessments of the child's diet and snacking behaviours; parental attitudes towards snack foods; and demographic profile of child's family. Results: One hundred and sixty-three children were examined, a 68 per cent response. The majority of the families were either in low income employment or unemployed. Sixty-eight per cent of children had experience of dental caries. Dental decay was unrelated to parental employment status but more children from unemployed families attended when in pain. The diet of the children was related to both employment status and parental attitude and was reflected in their caries experience. Caries experience was dependent upon parental dental attendance, the consumption of carbonated drinks and sugar containing bedtime drinks.

Conclusions: The results suggest that unemployment and parental attitudes are important as determinants of dental caries in five-year-old children from North and West Belfast. These factors may influence the child's dental health care as well as type of diet.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-257
Number of pages5
JournalCommunity Dental Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1997


  • Children
  • Dental caries
  • Diet
  • Social deprivation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Dentistry
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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