Dental caries experience continues to decline

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Dental caries experience continues to decline

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Over the past decades, a decline in caries has been observed among German adults and children, and to a lesser extent among senior citizens. (Photograph: Tatiana Chekryzhova/Shutterstock)

Fri. 12. April 2019

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COLOGNE, Germany: A recent study has assessed trends in dental caries experience in permanent dentition in Germany. The findings show that dental caries in permanent dentition has consistently decreased across all age groups since the late 1990s, mainly owing to the decreasing number of missing teeth. While the number of filled and decayed teeth also decreased in the younger population, it increased in seniors and is expected to continue to increase, the researchers stated.

In the study, researchers analysed components of caries experience, such as the number of decayed, missing or filled teeth, in Germany between 1997 and 2014. The data was obtained from the Deutsche Mundgesundheitsstudie [German oral health study], a repeated cross-sectional oral epidemiological survey that began in 1989 and shows dental caries experience in 12-year-olds, 35- to 44-year-olds and 65- to 74-year-olds over three time periods: 1997, 2005 and 2014.

The data revealed that in 1997 12-year-olds had a mean caries experience of 1.7 affected teeth. This experience dramatically decreased to 0.5 teeth in 2014, while for 2030, an experience of 0.2 teeth is projected. In 35- to 44-year-olds, a decrease of 4.9 teeth was recorded between 1997 (16.1) and 2014 (11.2). This decline is expected to continue until 2030 and result in 7.7 teeth in that year. Seniors aged 65–74 have also had a reduced caries experience, from 23.6 teeth in 1997 to 17.7 teeth in 2014. This decrease is expected to continue until 2030 down to 14.9 teeth.

The cumulative caries experience has decreased from 1.1 billion teeth in 2000 to 867 million teeth in 2015 and is expected to drop to 740 million teeth in 2030 for the entire German population. Similarly, a continuous decrease to 407 million is expected in filled teeth and to 286 million in missing teeth. In contrast, the number of decayed teeth is expected to increase noticeably to 46 million.

“Combined with the demographic changes in Germany, population-level dental treatment needs have been and will be highly dynamic. The often-cited caries decline is focused on specific components of caries experience, mainly missing teeth, and is more pronounced in younger than older age groups,” said co-author of the study Dr Rainer A. Jordan, Scientific Director of the Institute of German Dentists. “Temporal trends in dental caries experience are complex. Health services and workforce planning should address the drastically altered population-level treatment needs,” he added. “With the concentration of caries experience in the growing group of elderly patients, restorative and prosthetic treatment needs will be concentrated in this age group. Our findings are a call to action for policymakers and researchers to address the consequences of these dynamics in individual and population health.”

The study, titled “Trends in caries experience in the permanent dentition in Germany 1997–2014, and projection to 2030: Morbidity shifts in an aging society,” was published online on 2 April 2019 in Scientific Reports.

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