Objectives: To investigate the influence of family socioeconomic trajectories from childhood to adolescence on dental caries and associated behaviours.
Design: Population-based birth cohort.
Setting: Representative sample of the population of subjects born in 1982 in Pelotas, Brazil.
Participants: Adolescents (n = 888) aged 15 years old were dentally examined and interviewed.
Main outcome measures: Dental caries index (DMFT), care index (F/DMFT), tooth brushing, flossing and pattern of dental services use.
Main results: Adolescents who were always poor showed, in general, a worse pattern of dental caries, whereas adolescents who never were poor had a better pattern of dental caries. Adolescents who had moved from poverty in childhood to non-poverty in adolescence and those who had moved from non-poverty in childhood to poverty in adolescence had similar dental pattern to those who were always poor except for the pattern of dental services use, which was higher in the first group. In all groups girls had fewer carious teeth, better oral hygiene habits and higher dental services use than boys.
Conclusion: Poverty in at least one stage of the lifespan has a harmful effect on dental caries, oral behaviours and dental services use. Belonging to upwardly mobile families between childhood and adolescence only contributed to improved dental care.
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Competing interests: None.
Consent for interviews and exams were obtained and the project was approved by the Pelotas Federal University Ethics Committee.