Socioeconomic inequalities are recognized as a major problem with people in low socioeconomic groups having worse subjective oral health outcomes, including oral health-related quality of life (OHRQoL). However, only a few longitudinal studies assessed the impact of contextual and individual socioeconomic determinants in adolescents’ OHRQoL. We estimate the impact of socioeconomic inequalities on adolescents’ OHRQoL over a 2-year period.
This study followed up a random sample of 1134 12-year-old schoolchildren for 2 years in Brazil. OHRQoL was assessed by the Brazilian version of the Child Perceptions Questionnaire for 11- to 14-year-old Children (CPQ11-14) at baseline and follow-up. Participants were clinically examined for dental caries, gingival bleeding, and malocclusion. The schoolchildren’s parents answered a questionnaire regarding socioeconomic status, social capital, and adolescents’ use of dental service. Socioeconomic contextual variables were collected from official city publications. Multilevel linear regression models fitted the associations between socioeconomic factors and overall CPQ11-14 scores over time.
A total of 747, 14-year-old adolescents were reassessed for OHRQoL (follow-up rate of 66%). Adolescents with lower mean income school’s neighborhood (P < 0.05), household income (P < 0.05), and maternal schooling (P < 0.05) had higher overall CPQ11-14 scores. Female sex, attending a dentist by toothache, dental caries, and malocclusion were also associated with higher overall CPQ11-14 scores.
Adolescents from low socioeconomic background reported worse OHRQoL at 2-year follow-up compared to those from high socioeconomic background. Actions toward health inequalities need to address socioeconomic factors in adolescence.