Oral health status of an indigenous adult population of Central America

Sherie A. Dowsett, Luis Archila, Michael J. Kowolik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Objective. To determine the caries experience and periodontal disease status in adults of an indigenous rural community of Guatemala, and assess the suitability for longitudinal investigations. Basic research design. This investigation comprised an initial screen (Study I) and a more detailed periodontal examination (Study II). In Study I. caries and gingivitis levels were determined. In Study II, pocket probing depths (PPDs) and clinical attachment levels (CALs) were recorded on all teeth excluding third molars. Clinical setting Tzununa, Guatemala, Central America. Participants. Studies I and II were conducted in 120 adults 3 18 years and 54 adults 3 25 years respectively. Results. In both Studies I and II, tooth retention was high with a mean tooth count of 28.2 and 27.2 respectively. Extensive soft deposits and both supra- and subgingival calculus were almost universal, although gingivitis was less than expected (Study I: Mean percentage of sites bleeding on probing = 27.6). In Study I, the mean number of carious teeth was 8.6 and there was no statistically significant correlation with age. In Study II. PPD 3 5mm and CAL 3 6mm were highly prevalent (100% and 56% of subjects respectively), although widespread and severe disease was not evident. Conclusions. Despite the high caries level and the evidence of periodontal destruction in the majority of subjects, all study subjects had a functional dentition suggesting that emergency treatment remains the current priority. Longitudinal studies in such untreated populations would provide increased understanding of the role of environmental factors in disease etiology. The study also highlighted some methodological issues pertinent to conducting studies in remote communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)162-166
Number of pages5
JournalCommunity Dental Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2001


  • Adults
  • Caries
  • Clinical attachment level
  • Developing country
  • Epidemiology
  • Latin America
  • Periodontal disease
  • Pocket probing depth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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