Dental caries in twelve- and fifteen-year-olds: Results from the basic oral health survey in Haiti

Walter J. Psoter, H. Ludwig P. Saint Jean, Douglas E. Morse, Samuel Edgard Prophte, Jean Raymond Ernst Joseph, Ralph V. Katz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Reports on oral health investigations in Haiti are sparse. There are only three peer-reviewed published articles on oral health in Haiti. In order to construct a national dataset useful for public health planning, a representative dental caries survey of Haitian school attending children was conducted in 1999. Methods: This survey was conducted using a modified version of the World Health Organization (WHO) Basic Oral Health Survey (BOHS) pathfinder method. Children ages 12 and 15 years old attending public or private schools in both rural and urban regions were targeted in seven of the nine geographic Departments of Haiti: each Department constituted a strata that was further stratified into the major urban center and one or more rural towns. Four trained examiners, calibrated to WHO caries criteria, conducted the survey. Results: Of the total 1,218 examined 12- and 15-year-olds, 31% of the 12-year-olds and 46% of the 15-year-olds had a DMFS of 1 or more, i.e., these percentages are the simple prevalence levels of dental caries for those age groups in Haiti. Mean DMFS scores were 1.01 (SE 0.09) and 2.52 (SE 0.02) for the 12- and 15-year-olds, respectively. No difference was observed between gender, while differences were found by geographical classification. Less than 1% of the children had any dental restorations. Conclusions: The findings from this investigation suggest that at the population level, permanent dentition caries in early adolescence is a minimal health problem, relative to dental caries in other neighboring Caribbean countries, as well as to other health conditions in Haiti. However, at the individual level, those children afflicted with decay are without dental services for all practical purposes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-214
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of public health dentistry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 2005


  • Caribbean
  • Children
  • Dental caries
  • Haiti
  • National survey
  • Oral health
  • Prevalence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Dentistry
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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