the objective of the study was to develop regression models to describe the epidemiological profile of dental caries in 12-year-old children in an area of low prevalence of caries. two distinct random probabilistic samples of schoolchildren (n=1,763) attending public and private schools in piracicaba, southeastern brazil, were studied. regression models were estimated as a function of the most affected teeth using data collected in 2005 and were validated using a 2001 database. the mean (sd) dmft index was 1.7 (2.08) in 2001 and the regression equations estimated a dmft index of 1.67 (1.98), which corresponds to 98.2% of the dmft index in 2001. the study provided detailed data on the caries profile in 12-year-old children by using an updated analytical approach. regression models can be an accurate and feasible method that can provide valuable information for the planning and evaluation of oral health services.