Longitudinal analysis of deciduous tooth emergence: IV. Covariate effects in Japanese children.
ABSTRACT Emergence of the deciduous teeth is generally considered to be robust to moderate environmental insults, malnutrition, and disease. Consequently, deciduous tooth emergence has been used to assess growth and development and for age estimation in children. In this paper, we examine the way in which nutritional status and other covariates affect deciduous tooth emergence in a sample of 114 Japanese children born in Tokyo in 1914 and 1924. Parametric survival analysis was used to quantify the effects of nutritional status, breastfeeding behavior, and sex on the hazard of deciduous tooth emergence. Children of poor nutritional status exhibited significantly delayed emergence of all deciduous teeth, with effects that ranged from 14-29% increases in mean emergence times. Children of medium nutritional status exhibited increases in mean emergence times of 5-9% for the canines and lower molars, and 13-17% for the incisors. Partial breastfeeding had no effect on tooth emergence, but children who were not breastfed at all showed delayed emergence of the upper incisors. No significant sex differences in emergence were found. The findings contradict the idea that moderate malnutrition has little effect on deciduous tooth emergence. Furthermore, nutritional differences may account for some of the observed differences among populations in the timing of tooth emergence.