Largest study to date on dental caries experience in Norwegian adult population

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Largest study to date on dental caries experience in Norwegian adult population

A recent Norwegian study reported untreated dentine caries in over half the study participants over the last 45 years. (Image: ittipon/Shutterstock)

OSLO, Norway: Seeking to fill the gap on available epidemiological data on the present oral health situation in Norway, researchers have recently assessed dental caries prevalence among adults in central Norway and looked at changes over the last 45 years. The study, which is the largest oral health study performed in Norway, reported that there was a general decrease in dental caries experience over the last four and a half decades, but noted that untreated dentine caries is a rather common issue in the study population that needs to be tackled urgently.

The study was conducted between 2017 and 2019 and included 4,913 participants aged 19 years and older, who answered questionnaires and underwent clinical and radiographic examinations. According to the authors, previous data on oral health in the country was only available for people 18 years of age and younger. After collecting the data, the researchers compared it with findings from previous studies in the same region conducted from 1973 to 2006.

According to the current findings, the average number of decayed, missing and filled teeth in the study population was 14.9. The authors noted that, compared with earlier studies, there was a decline in the mean number of decayed, missing and filled teeth for 35- to 44-year-olds from 26.5 in 1973 to 10.8 in 2019.

Additionally, 56.0% of the participants had one or more carious teeth and 11.8% had four or more. For initial caries, the mean number was 3.8, the highest being for 19- to 24-year-olds at 8.6.

Finally, the data showed that in 1973 4.8% of 35- to 44-year-olds were edentulous, whereas in the present study, edentulousness was found only in individuals over 65 years old.

In light of the findings, the authors noted that, despite a substantial reduction in caries experience over the last 45 years, all age groups habitually experienced untreated dentine caries. They also highlighted that initial caries particularly affected younger individuals, pointing to a need to assess current prevention strategies and to provide improved access to dental services.

The study, titled “Dental caries in a Norwegian adult population, the HUNT4 oral health study; prevalence, distribution and 45-year trends”, was published online on 23 September 2022 in Acta Odontologica Scandinavica, ahead of inclusion in an issue.

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