Journal of Public Health

, Volume 26, Issue 5, pp 587–594 | Cite as

Evaluation of determinant factors for the presence and activity of dental caries in five-year-old children: study with decision tree

  • Monalisa Cesarino Gomes
  • Matheus França Perazzo
  • Erick Tássio Neves
  • Maria Betânia Lins Dantas Siqueira
  • Edja Maria Melo de Brito Costa
  • Ane Polline Lacerda Protasio
  • Adriana Freitas Lins Pimentel Silva
  • Kátia Virgínia Guerra Botelho
  • Ana Flávia Granville-Garcia
Original Article



The aim of the present study was to investigate dental caries and caries activity as well as determine associations with sociodemographic factors and visits to the dentist among 5-year-old children.

Subjects and methods

Seven hundred sixty-nine children enrolled in preschools in a medium-sized city in northeast Brazil participated in the study. Two examiners who had undergone training exercises performed the examinations using the ICDAS-II. Descriptive statistics and logistic regression for complex samples were performed (α = 5%). An inductive decision tree was created for the occurrence of cavitated lesions (J48 algorithm).


The prevalence of caries was 91.5% (59.5% cavitated lesions and 32.0% white spots). Among the children diagnosed with caries, 87.1% had active caries. In the multivariate analysis, low income (OR = 2.90; 95% CI: 1.05–8.05) and having visited a dentist for treatment (OR = 7.94; 95% CI: 2.58–24.39) were associated with dental caries (white spot and/or cavitated lesion). For caries activity, low income (OR = 4.63; 95% CI: 1.60–13.35) and having visited a dentist for treatment (OR = 4.80; 95% CI: 2.06–11.18) remained in the final model. In the decision tree, the following variables were predictors of cavitated lesions: lower parent schooling level (p < 0.001), reason for visiting the dentist (p = 0.003) and low income (p = 0.006).


Low income and having visited a dentist for treatment were determinants of dental caries as well as caries activity in 5-year-old children. In the decision tree, low income, reason for visiting a dentist and lower parent schooling level exerted an influence on the occurrence of cavitated lesions.


Dental caries Child Oral health Decision trees Pediatric dentistry 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Monalisa Cesarino Gomes
    • 1
  • Matheus França Perazzo
    • 2
  • Erick Tássio Neves
    • 1
  • Maria Betânia Lins Dantas Siqueira
    • 1
  • Edja Maria Melo de Brito Costa
    • 1
  • Ane Polline Lacerda Protasio
    • 3
  • Adriana Freitas Lins Pimentel Silva
    • 4
  • Kátia Virgínia Guerra Botelho
    • 4
  • Ana Flávia Granville-Garcia
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of DentistryState University of ParaíbaCampina GrandeBrazil
  2. 2.Department of Pediatric Dentistry and OrthodonticFederal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG)Belo HorizonteBrazil
  3. 3.Postgraduate Program in DentistryFederal University of Paraíba (UFPB)João PessoaBrazil
  4. 4.Institute of Dentistry of ParaíbaCampina GrandeBrazil

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