The purpose of this study was to describe the dental caries experience in 12–year–old students in the State of Mexico and to detect changes after 9 years of salt fluoridation (1988–1997). The 1987 WHO dental caries criteria were used in both surveys. The population studied encompassed 2,275 12–year–old students in 1988, and 1,138 in 1997. The proportion of ‘caries–free’ children was 10.3% in the first survey and 27.7% in the second one. The mean DMFT index was 4.39 (SD 2.9) in 1988 and 2.47 (SD 2.4) in 1997, the confidence interval of the differences between DMFT means was [95% CI 1.73, 2.11]; the caries reduction detected was 43.7%. The Unmet Restorative Index was 82.3% in 1988 and 72.8% in 1997. The results of the present study indicate that the oral health status of State of Mexico students has improved during the last decade; however, there is still a need for further caries reduction and an increment in access to dental treatment.

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