Publication Date


Degree Type

Master's Project

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Irene Gonzales

Second Advisor

Virigina Young Cureton


Dental morbidity is a chronic problem that affects a child's ability to attend school, to learn, and to enjoy good health. Of all childhood diseases, oral disease ranks as one of the highest and is considered one of the most common and the least treated. The prevalence of dental caries is high among children and adolescents in school populations. This study explored the prevalence of dental caries in a California Central Coast middle school during the 2002-03 school year (N=526). Findings indicated that severe dental caries existed in both boys and girls and in students of various ethnic groups. Approximately 5.7% of adolescents were shown to have visible and severe dental caries with significant ethnic variation. Twice as many Hispanic teens had visible dental caries as the white and other non-white teens. School nurses should routinely screen for dental disease in all school grades and provide resources and referrals for dental treatment.

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