OBJECTIVE: The aim of the study is to assess the relationship between caries and dental fluorosis in Ethiopian children living in Rift Valley areas known for endemic fluorosis.
METHOD: A total of 306 children (12-15 years old), selected from areas with moderate (0.3-2.2 mg/l), or high (10-14 mg/l)fluoride concentration in the drinking water were interviewed and examined for caries and dental fluorosis. Scorings were recorded according to the DMF system, and the Thylstrup-Fejerskov (TF) Index.
RESULTS: Prevalence of dental fluorosis (TF-score > or = 1) was 91.8% (moderate area) and 100% (high-fluoride area). The corresponding caries prevalence and mean DMFT in the areas were 45.3% versus 61.6%, and 1.2 versus 1.8, respectively. Age and severity of dental fluorosis were found to be independent predictors for DMFT > or = 1. When compared with 12-year olds with TF-scores 0-4, odds ratios were 3.0 (95% CI 1.6-5.7) and 2.0 (95% CI 1.2-3.2) if TF-scores were > or = 5 and age 13-15 years, respectively. A positive relationship between caries and fluorosis was observed across tooth types in both areas. The percentage of children with DMFT > or = 1 was highest in groups with TF-score > or = 5 in the second molar, followed by the first molar.
CONCLUSION: The present findings indicate that the second molar is the tooth most severely affected by dental fluorosis and dental caries. Dental caries increased with increasing severity of dental fluorosis, both in moderate- and high-fluoride areas. Thus, a positive relationship between dental caries and dental fluorosis was observed across various tooth types, in both areas.