Native language spoken as a risk marker for tooth decay

J. Carson, L. A. Walker, B. J. Sanders, J. E. Jones, J. A. Weddell, A. M. Tomlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The purpose of this study was to assess dmft, the number of decayed, missing (due to caries), and/or filled primary teeth, of English-speaking and non-English speaking patients of a hospital based pediatric dental clinic under the age of 72 months to determine if native language is a risk marker for tooth decay. Study Design: Records from an outpatient dental clinic which met the inclusion criteria were reviewed. Patient demographics and dmft score were recorded, and the patients were separated into three groups by the native language spoken by their parents: English, Spanish and all other languages. Results: A total of 419 charts were assessed: 253 English-speaking, 126 Spanish-speaking, and 40 other native languages. After accounting for patient characteristics, dmft was significantly higher for the other language group than for the English-speaking (p<0.001) and Spanish-speaking groups (p<0.05), however the English-speaking and Spanish-speaking groups were not different from each other (p>0.05). Conclusions: Those patients under 72 months of age whose parents' native language is not English or Spanish, have the highest risk for increased dmft when compared to English and Spanish speaking patients. Providers should consider taking additional time to educate patients and their parents, in their native language, on the importance of routine dental care and oral hygiene.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)415-418
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Clinical Pediatric Dentistry
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2015


  • Caries
  • Communication
  • Immigration
  • Language barrier

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Dentistry(all)

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