Dietary and social characteristics of children with severe tooth decay

Cameron, FL, Weaver, LT, Welbury, Richard orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-9322-2440 and Wright, CM (2006) Dietary and social characteristics of children with severe tooth decay. Scottish Medical Journal, 51 . pp. 26-29. ISSN 0036-9330

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Background and Aims
Dental decay remains a major public health problem in Scottish children. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between diet, bowel habit, social class, and body mass index (BMI) in children with severe tooth decay.

Children and Methods
A cross sectional study of 165 children aged 3 -11 years attending Glasgow Dental Hospital for extraction of teeth under dental general anaesthesia (DGA), was undertaken. A structured questionnaire was used to obtain information from each child on diet, bowel habit, and social status of their parents. Fibre and sugar scores were calculated from the frequency of consumption of a range of relevant foods.

The children (mean age 5.7 (SD1.8) years) had between 1 and 20 decayed, missing or filled primary teeth (dmft) with a mean dmft of 7.9 (SD 3.5). 37% ate a chocolate bar daily, and 29% regularly drank a sugary drink after brushing their teeth. An excess of children were from the most deprived parts of the city and they had the worst decay. Children with the worst decay were also significantly thinner. No relationship was found between tooth decay and bowel habit.

In this selected group of children with poor dental health, those from deprived families were over-represented and had significantly more decay. Severe dental decay was also associated with underweight.

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