Childhood Caries and Sweetened Beverages

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Childhood Caries and Sweetened Beverages

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Break down in the tooth enamel (decay) occurs when susceptible tooth surfaces are exposed to acids produced when bacteria in the mouth are exposed to sugars or starches (fermentable carbohydrates) in food and beverages that we consume. The normal pH in the mouth drops from a neutral range to an acidic level and these conditions persist for up to 30 minutes after finishing a meal or beverage. Recurrent decay, adjacent to dental fillings, results from this same exposure. Therefore, one might expect that the more frequently a person consumes sugar-containing foods and beverages the higher their rate of both dental decay and/or number of dental fillings they will have. Methods: This cross sectional study included 84 subjects between the ages of 4 and 12 years of age who had class I or class II dental fillings. This study had IRB approval from the University of Minnesota Human Research Protection Program. All subjects 8 years of age and older provided assent and informed consent was obtained from each child’s legal guardian, regardless of age, before any study procedures were conducted. Each child, along with their guardian, was queried about their typical daily dietary habits, including the types and number of beverages they consume. A dental examination was performed and all fillings and/or decayed surfaces were recorded. Correlations between dietary habits and decay experience were calculated. Results: The results from the data analyses showed that there wasn’t a definite linear relationship (r 2 value) between the number of sweetened beverages and the number of decayed and/or filled tooth surfaces (dfs). This study also shows that even a more comprehensive multifactorial risk assessment as defined by the Caries Management by Risk Assessment (CAMBRA) model does not correlate to the extent of the disease. Conclusions: This study illustrates that dental caries is a multi-factorial disease and it is difficult to find linear/predictive conclusions when using a single variables and current multifactorial models.


Advisers: Patricia Lenton, Research Fellow, Division of TMD and Orofacial Pain; Professor Robert Jones, Division of Pediatric Dentistry.

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This research was supported by the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP).

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Seubert, Mitchell. (2012). Childhood Caries and Sweetened Beverages. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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