Dietary patterns, toothbrushing habits and caries experience of schoolchildren in West Yorkshire, England

R S Levine, Z J Nugent, M C J Rudolf, P Sahota
Community Dental Health 2007, 24 (2): 82-7

OBJECTIVE AND METHOD: The present study followed a group of 608 children, aged 7-11 years from six primary schools, for whom detailed dietary information was available. These children were traced four years later when they were in secondary school. The aim of the study was to investigate the relationship between the original dietary pattern, current dietary pattern, toothbrushing habit and oral health. Of the original children, 500 were traced to 32 secondary schools over a wide geographic area. For logistical reasons those in 18 schools were selected and positive consent and full data was obtained for 315 together with an additional group of 122 of their classmates. Three-day, self-reported dietary data was obtained, together with information on toothbrushing habits. A dental examination was carried out using BASCD survey methodology.

RESULTS: The children in this study had a lower DMFT (0.82) than found in the most recent survey for the area (1.39). No significant relationship was found between sugar-sweetened foods or drinks at age 7-11 and caries in the first permanent molar teeth at age 11-15 years, however a significant relationship was found between current sugar-sweetened drinks consumption and caries. Significantly less caries was associated with the reported moderate consumption of dairy products by the children when aged 11-15 years. The bedtime consumption of NMES drinks at 7-11 was significantly associated with an increase in caries as was the bedtime consumption of non-milk extrinsic sugars (NMES) foods at 11-15 years. A significant inverse relationship was found between claimed toothbrushing frequency and caries. Of those children aged 11-15 years claiming to brush at least once a day, 69% were caries-free with a mean DMFT of 0.69. Of the children who claimed to brush only occasionally or never, 52% were caries-free and they had a mean DMFT of 1.05.

CONCLUSION: The reported consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks and the lack of regular toothbrushing were found to be the factors most strongly linked to caries and this finding is consistent with other recent studies.

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