Prevalence of Early Childhood Caries in India: An Overview of Published Literature between 2003 and 2018

Amil Joshi1, Ashwin Jawdekar2
1 Pediatric and Preventive Dentistry, D.Y. Patil University- School of Dentistry, Nerul, Maharashtra, India
2 Pediatric and Preventive Dentistry, YMT Dental College, Kharghar, Maharashtra, India

Background: Periodic oral health surveys are essential for the assessment of oral health status and treatment needs in a population. The National Oral Health Survey was a comprehensive epidemiological survey conducted by the Ministry of Health, India in 2002-2003; which reported the prevalence of dental caries in children by 5 years to be about 50%. Changing environments pertaining to diet, fluoride in marketed products and availability of dental services may have an impact on caries. In the last 15 years, no national epidemiological investigation has been conducted in India. The aim of this secondary investigation was to provide an updated overview of all epidemiological studies carried out between 2003-2018 reporting the prevalence of Early Childhood Caries (ECC) in children below 6 years of age.

Methods: Web-based search using `Google Scholar`, and `PubMed` by two investigators yielded 36 articles which were considered for analysis.

Results: Mean prevalence of ECC all over India was 47%. Region-wise, prevalence from the Northern, Western and Southern regions have been reported, while no data was available in the Central and Eastern regions. Out of 29 states in India, data was documented in only 11 states with prevalence ranging from lowest in Andhra Pradesh (27.30%) and highest in Maharashtra (57.66%). The prevalence in rural and urban area was 46.58% and 50%, respectively. However, studies considered exhibited differences in the training and calibration of examiners, diagnostic thresholds used, age range and other criteria.

Conclusion: The mean ECC prevalence of 47% in India as per our review is close to that reported in the National Oral Health Survey. A new primary investigation is much needed for confirming the ECC prevalence.

Amil Joshi