Development of a Theoretical Screening Tool to Assess Caries Risk in Nevada Youth

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Objectives: One objective of this study was to determine the prevalence and severity of caries among Nevada youth, subsequently comparing these data with national statistics. A second objective was to identify the risk factors associated with caries prevalence and severity in order to develop and tailor a theoretical screening tool for this cohort for future validation. Methods: Researchers computed the prevalence rates of dental caries (D-score) and severity rates of decayed, missing, and filled teeth indices in a cohort of 9,202 students, 13 to 18 years of age, attending public/private schools in the 2005/2006 academic year. Multiple regression established which of the 13 variables significantly contributed to caries risk, subsequently using logistic regression to ascertain the weight of contribution and odds ratios of significant variables. Results: Living in counties with no municipal water fluoridation, increased exposure to environmental smoke, minority race, living in rural communities, and increasing age were the largest significant contributors (respectively). Exposure to tobacco, being female, lack of dental insurance, increased body mass index risk, and lack of dental sealants were also significant, but to a lesser extent. Nonsignificant factors included socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and family history of diabetes. Conclusions: This study confirmed high caries prevalence and severity and identified significant risk factors for inclusion in a theoretical risk screening tool for future validation and translation for use in the early detection of caries risk in Nevada youth.