objective describing the prevalence and severity of caries in schoolchildren attending the john f. kennedy school in cartagena and its relationship to family factors. methods this was a cross-sectional descriptive study of 243 students. dental caries prevalence was evaluated by dmft and ceo-d index; caries severity was measured by using icdas ii 2005 criteria and family variables were ascertained by filling out a questionnaire that included the family apgar (adaptation, partnership, growth, affection and resolve) for measuring family functioning. descriptive statistics were used when analysing relationships and the chi-square test was used for variables. results caries prevalence was 51 % (45-95 59 %ci). it was shown that 38 % (31-44 95 %ci) of parents had reached secondary school (but not completed it), 44 % (39-54 95 %ci) were living with a partner, 47 % (40-53 95 %ci) had low socioeconomic status, 53 % (47-57 95 %ci) were living in nuclear families, 47 % (41-53 95 %ci) were receiving less than minimum wage income, 66 % (58-70 95 %ci) were affiliated to the government health system and 59 % (52-66 95 %ci) were living in dysfunctional families. bivariate analysis only revealed statistical significance regarding the fathers incomplete secondary schooling and the presence of dental caries (p=0.04). conclusions even though most variables showed no statistical significance regarding explaining the presence of dental caries, they did provide epidemiologically important indicators which would facilitate decisions being made from a public health standpoint.