A study was conducted amongst 1,131 randomly selected persons aged 15–65 years in a rural area of Kenya, having minimal access to dental care. A relatively low prevalence of frank cavitation was found in the 15- to 24-year-old cohort, but in the older age groups over 80% were so affected. Caries in the youngest cohort was characterized by a predominance of enamel lesions. At the age of 25–34 years, however, involvement of pulpal tissues and loss of teeth due to caries was more common, and this age group exhibited the largest number of dentinal lesions. The 35- to 44-year-old cohort exhibited fewer enamel and dentinal lesions, but more pulpally involved lesions and more extracted teeth. In the group aged 45–54 years, enamel and dentinal lesions were less common, and at the age of 55–65 years, such lesions were less common in comparison to their occurrence in younger cohorts. The 55- to 65-year cohort could generally be characterized as having larger numbers of root surface lesions, lesions involving the pulp, and extracted teeth. Root surface lesions were principally associated with age over 35 years. In all age groups caries exhibited a skewed distribution, most of the lesions occurring in a minority of individuals. This study demonstrates that caries activity continues throughout life and is not a phenomenon confined to any one period of life.

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