The aim of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to document the disparity in dental caries experiences among indigenous and nonindigenous populations globally by measuring dental caries prevalence and severity. An electronic database (MEDLINE) was initially searched using relevant keywords. This was followed by use of the search string in the following electronic databases: Scopus, EBSCOhost, Cochrane, and Open Grey. Two independent reviewers conducted the study search and screening, quality assessment, and data extraction, which was facilitated using JBI SUMARI software. The primary outcome was the decayed missing filled teeth (DMFT) score and dental caries prevalence. Subgroup analysis was done by country of publication to identify causes of heterogeneity. Forest plots were used with the standardized mean difference (SMD) and publication bias was assessed using the Egger test with funnel plot construction. For the final review, 43 articles were selected and 34 were meta-analyzed. The pooled mean DMFT for both the permanent dentition (SMD = 0.26; 95% CI 0.13-0.39) and deciduous dentition (SMD = 0.67; 95% CI 0.47-0.87) was higher for the Indigenous population than for the general population. Indigenous populations experienced more decayed teeth (SMD = 0.44; 95% CI 0.25-0.62), a slightly higher number of missing teeth (SMD = 0.11< 95% CI -0.05 to 0.26), and lesser filled teeth (SMD = -0.04; 95% CI -0.20 to 0.13) than their nonindigenous counterparts. The prevalence of dental caries (SMD = 0.27; 95% CI 0.13-0.41) was higher among indigenous people. Globally, indigenous populations have a higher caries prevalence and severity than nonindigenous populations. The factors which have led to such inequities need to be examined.
© 2021 The Author(s) Published by S. Karger AG, Basel.