Objective: To identify and characterize socio-economic inequalities in professionally administered topical fluoride treatment to schoolchildren.
Methods: One thousand six hundred and forty-four schoolchildren [6 to 13 years of age, mean 9.06 ± 2.02; years 50.9% boys] were included in a cross-sectional study. Using questionnaires directed to mothers/guardians, we collected sociodemographic, socio-economic and dental variables. The dependent variable was at least one professional application of topical fluoride by a dentist in the previous year. Dentists in Mexico carry out the scope of clinical care traditionally assigned to dental hygienists in the United States of America (USA) and Canada. A multivariate logistic regression model was generated.
Results: The prevalence of fluoride application was 11.5 % (95% CI = 9.9, 13.0). In the multivariate model, the odds of having a topical fluoride application was higher in children who reported brushing teeth more often (OR = 1.62, 95% CI = 1.22, 2.15) and in children from families with better socio-economic position (OR = 1.26, 95% CI = 1.06, 1.50).
Conclusions: The experience of having fluoride administered by a dentist in the previous year was low overall in this sample of Mexican children. The results of the study suggest certain socio-economic inequalities. Strategies aimed at eliminating such inequalities across the socioeconomic spectrum are necessary if this population group is to follow recommended frequency schedules for topical fluoride applications.