The accuracy of estimated age should depend on the reference data sets (RDS) from which the maturity scores or Ages of Attainment (AoA) were obtained. This study aimed to test the accuracy of age estimation from three different population specific dental reference datasets (RDS).
Two hundred and sixty six dental panoramic radiographs of subjects belonging to southern Chinese ethnicity were scored and dental age (DA) was estimated from three reference datasets: French-Canadian, United Kingdom (UK) Caucasian and southern Chinese. Statistical significance was set at p < 0.05 and for each method, the difference between the chronological age (CA) and dental age (CA-DA) was calculated using paired t-tests. In addition, Chi-square tests were performed to evaluate the accuracy of the age estimates within specific time interval from CA.
The estimated age difference (CA-DA) using the French Canadian RDS was − 0.62 years for males and − 0.36 years for females. For the UK Caucasian RDS, the age difference was 0.25 years for males and 0.23 years for females. The difference observed using the southern Chinese RDS was − 0.02 years for both genders and the difference was not statistically significant (p > 0.05). The southern Chinese RDS estimated the age of 80% of subjects within ±12 months range, and 90% of subjects within ±18 months range (p < 0.05) showing it to be more accurate than other datasets.
It is concluded that population specific Reference Data Sets improve the accuracy of dental age estimation.