Untreated dental caries is a persistent oral problem among preschool children. Although there is vast evidence regarding the impact of dental caries on oral health-related quality of life (OHRQoL) in this age group, evidence on the impact of untreated caries severity is scarce. The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of untreated caries severity on the OHRQoL of preschool children and their families.
A cross-sectional study was conducted with 563 individuals in the city of Goiania, Brazil. Data were collected through interviews with parents/caregivers and clinical examinations of their children. The OHRQoL was measured by the Brazilian version of the Early Childhood Oral Health Impact Scale. Untreated dental caries severity was assessed using validated indices. Other independent variables were socioeconomic, toothache prevalence, and the questionnaire respondent. Statistical analysis involved bivariate comparisons and Poisson regression analyses.
A higher prevalence of impact on OHRQoL was found among preschool children with untreated dental caries with clinical consequences (PR 1.31; 95% CI 1.01–1.70) compared to those without caries; those aged 5 years (PR 1.47; 95% CI 1.18–1.82), compared to those aged two; and those with a toothache (PR 1.54; 95% CI 1.34–1.76), compared to those without toothache. Moreover, fathers (PR 0.71; 95% CI 0.55–0.92) and other respondents (PR 0.70; 95% CI 0.52–0.96) perceived less impact on the OHRQoL in comparison to mothers.
Severe untreated dental caries with clinical consequences had a negative impact on the children’s OHRQoL, regardless of toothache and socioeconomic factors.