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Assessment of the Influence of Vegetarian and Nonvegetarian Diet on the Occurrence of Dental Caries in Sullia, India

Authors:
Assessment of the Inuence of Vegetarian and Nonvegetarian Diet on the Occurrence of Dental Caries in Sullia, India
International Journal of Oral Care and Research, October-December 2016;4(4):247-250
247
IJOCR
Assessment of the Inuence of Vegetarian
and Nonvegetarian Diet on the Occurrence
of Dental Caries in Sullia, India
1Krishna Prasada Lashkari, 2Rajana Raghunath
IJOCR
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
10.5005/jp-journals-10051-0055
INTRODUCTION
Dental caries is a multifactorial infection resulting in
demineralization of the tooth enamel with subsequent
caries formation over a period of time where the triad –
diet, host, and microbial flora – plays important roles.1
Dental caries is one of the most prevalent dental dis-
eases and an important dental public health problem.
This disease is greatly affected by many factors other
than sugar consumption. The prevalence of dental caries
varies with age, sex, socioeconomic status, food, race, and
oral hygiene habits.2
India, the world’s second most populous country,
has 40% of its population, or about 399 million people,
as vegetarians.
Exclusion of meat is the principle of a vegetarian diet.
However, there are many variations of it, the most radical
of which is veganism, which allows only plant foods. Lac-
tovegetarianism allows plant foods with dairy products,
and lacto-ovo vegetarianism adds eggs to the diet. So far,
there have been only few publications dealing with the
influence of vegetarian diet on the condition of the oral
cavity, and most reports have so far mainly appeared
from within Western populations.3
Indicating the status of dental caries in the Indian
population, there exists a voluminous literature. In 1940,
it was observed that the occurrence of dental caries in
India was 55.5%, and in 1960, to be 68%. Urban and cos-
mopolitan residents have had an increase in the frequency
and severity of dental caries since the last two decades.
The disease prominence in rural and backward areas of
the country in comparison, where 80% of the population
lives, has not yet been determined.4
In a population, the components of improving oral
health involves collecting information on oral diseases,
valuating the data that aid to comprehend the needs
of the community, documenting high-risk groups, and
planning the management and preventive strategies for
the community.4
There are conflicting evidences regarding the associa-
tion between vegetarian diet and the incidence of dental
caries, which reported controversial results with either
lower or higher prevalence.5
A survey of every region is important to know the
inequalities of oral health. Not many studies have been
1Head and Professor, 2Student
1,2Department of Conservative Dentistry and Endodontics, KVG
Dental College & Hospital, Sullia, Karnataka, India
Corresponding Author: Rajana Raghunath, Student
Department of Conservative Dentistry and Endodontics, KVG
Dental College & Hospital, Sullia, Karnataka, India, Phone:
+919972236207, e-mail: rajana.jayaraghunath@gmail.com
ABSTRACT
Introduction: The outcomes of vegetarian diets on the oral
health status could be various, but reports have so far mainly
been studied for Western populations.
Aim: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the inuence of
vegetarian and nonvegetarian diets on the occurrence of dental
caries in the Dakshina Kannada District population.
Materials and methods: In this study, 172 adult dentate and
consenting individuals (79 females, 93 males) were included.
Patients were subjected to clinical examination under natural
light with the aid of mouth mirror, No. 23 explorer, and cotton
rolls. The age of the study group ranged from 20 to 65 years.
Demographic, diet, and other habit data were collected through
personal interviews using a structured and validated question-
naire. The decayed, missing, and lled teeth (DMFT) index
(WHO modication, 1987) was used to assess caries experience
in the study group.
Results: The mean DMFT score of people with nonvegetarian/
mixed diet was 2.99 ± 1.5 and of people with vegetarian diet was
5.4 ± 1.9, which indicated a signicant association between the
type of diet and the involvement of dental caries in the Dakshina
Kannada population (p = 0.001).
Conclusion: This study throws light on the signicant relation-
ship of the vegetarian diet and dental caries experience in the
population of Sullia Taluk. This information can be used to
help counteract the potential increase in the cases of dental
caries by designing preventive strategies for the persons at
greatest risk.
Keywords: Dental caries, Diet, Humans, India, Vegetarian.
How to cite this article: Lashkari KP, Raghunath R. Assess-
ment of the Inuence of Vegetarian and Nonvegetarian Diet
on the Occurrence of Dental Caries in Sullia Taluk Population,
India. Int J Oral Care Res 2016;4(4):247-250.
Source of support: Nil
Conict of interest: None
Krishna Prasada Lashkari, Rajana Raghunath
248
done in Sullia Taluk to assess the dental caries and oral
hygiene status. The current study was, hence, planned to
provide the baseline data of prevalence of dental caries
and the influence of vegan and nonvegan diets on the
occurrence of dental caries that can help to plan preventive
strategies for the population at greater risk for the develop-
ment of dental caries in the Dakshina Kannada population.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
This is an original study, which was based on the data
collected from the questionnaire. About 172 adult dentate
and consenting individuals (79 females, 93 males) who
had attended dental screening camps conducted by the
KVG Dental College & Hospital Sullia, South Karnataka,
India, were included in the study. With the aid of a mouth
mirror, No. 23 explorer, and cotton rolls, patients were
subjected to clinical examination under natural light.
The age of the study group ranged from 20 to 65 years.
Through personal interviews using a structured and vali-
dated questionnaire, the demographic, dietary habit, and
health behavior data were collected. The subjects were
examined by postgraduate students of the Department
of Endodontic and Conservative Dentistry. The instru-
ments used were sterilized after every single use. The
site of dental caries was recorded. The decayed, missing,
and filled teeth (DMFT) index (WHO modification, 1987)
was used to assess caries experience of the study group.6
The data acquired were statistically analyzed using
Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) version
16.0, and the results were tabulated. Descriptive variables
were reported as mean (standard deviation) for continuous
variables and frequency (%) for categorical variables. Chi-
square test was used to find an association between dental
caries and dietary patterns. Two-sample independent
t tests were used for comparison of caries status among
study patterns according to diet history; p = 0.001 was
considered statistically significant.
RESULTS
Through this study, we tried to analyze the number of
persons affected with dental caries in different genders,
ages, and dietary habits among the patients studied.
Among 172 subjects who were examined, 54.1% were
males and the rest 45.9% were females. Mean age of study
group was 41.38 ± 7.50 years. In females, the occurrence
of dental caries was found to be slightly higher (Table 1).
The mean DMFT score of people with nonvegetarian
diet was 2.99 ± 1.5 and of people with vegetarian diet was
5.4 ± 1.9, which showed significant association between
the type of diet and dental caries experienced in the Sullia
Taluk population (p = 0.001) (Table 2).
DISCUSSION
Good oral health has significant health gains, as it is a
part of general health. It can greatly improve quality of
life and contribute to self-image and social interaction.
Assessing the prevalence of diseases, disclosing trends
in disease development, and analyzing possible factors
influencing the disease pattern can be done by conducting
epidemiologic studies.7
The customary allowance of food and drink taken
by a person on a day-to-day basis is referred to as diet.
The diet affects dental caries, as it reacts with the enamel
surface and also serves as a substrate for cariogenic
microorganisms.
On a worldwide basis, there is polarization of caries,
where the incidence of caries is increasing in less-developed
nations, diminishing in developed nations, and epidemic
in developing nations. The drop in caries prevalence in
developed countries has been allied with a more sensible
approach of sugar consumption, enhanced oral hygiene
practices, and numerous preventive programs.8
The influence of vegetarian diet on the progress of
dental caries and erosion has been barely explored earlier.
There is much documented proof about the general
well-being benefits from a vegetarian diet. But a Finnish
study advocated that 76.9% of lactovegetarians had dental
erosion as compared with no erosion in aged-matched
controls, and that the salivary pH and the stimulated
flow rate was lower in lactovegetarians.9
A study done by Rahmatulla and Guile9 proposed
that, theoretically, there may be some advantage in a
reduced caries level from a vegetarian diet. Such a benefit
possibly will be indirect and associated with vegetarian
lifestyle, characterized by a monitored and cautious
intake of foodstuffs.
Staufenbiel et al5 suggested that vegetarians had a
significantly better oral hygiene, but at the same time
contradicting, also significantly more carious lesions
than nonvegetarians. As intake of fruits was considerably
more dominant in vegetarians than in nonvegetarians, it
might be established that carbohydrates within the fruits
are accountable for the higher number of carious lesions.
Table 1: Distribution of study participants according
to gender
Gender (n=172) Frequency n(%)
Males 93 (54.1)
Female 79 (54.1)
Table 2: Decayed, missing, and lled teeth scores
of vegetarian and non-vegetarian diet
Groups Mean DMFT score
Vegetarian Diet 5.4±1.9
Non-Vegetarian Diet 2.99 ± 1.5
Assessment of the Inuence of Vegetarian and Nonvegetarian Diet on the Occurrence of Dental Caries in Sullia, India
International Journal of Oral Care and Research, October-December 2016;4(4):247-250
249
IJOCR
Low-molecular-weight carbohydrates contain monosac-
charides, such as glucose, galactose, and fructose and
disaccharides, such as sucrose, maltose, and lactose. The
major sugars in fruits are glucose, sucrose, and fructose.
Animal models have proven that each of these sugars can
be fermented to acids by oral bacteria, and thus, each may
cause caries.
Thanikasalam et al,10 in their study population, con-
cluded that the person who follows a vegetarian diet
had the highest number of caries risk due to constant
carbohydrate fermentation.
Bhardwaj et al,11 likewise in their study, concluded
that children consuming a vegetarian diet had higher
occurrence of dental caries than those following a mixed
diet; this difference was highly statistically significant.
Similar outcomes were reported by Khan et al.12
The current study was conducted in Sullia Taluk of
Dakshina Kannada District, and the results directed to a
mean DMFT score of people with nonvegetarian diet as
2.99 ± 1.5 and of people with vegetarian diet as 5.4 ± 1.9,
which exhibited significant association between the type
of diet and the dental caries experience in the Dakshina
Kannada population (p = 0.001).
It has been proven that dental caries is a process that
occurs due to formation of acid by fermentation of sugar
through acidogenic bacteria, which leads to enamel decal-
cification. However, with the buffering action of saliva,
this acid is usually neutralized, and the dental caries is
not permitted to ensue. Once fermentable carbohydrate
was not added to the saliva, fermentation was replaced
by putrefaction, acidity was replaced by alkalinity, and no
decalcification was observed. Putrefaction is the result of
protein consumption, so it is suggested that the persons
who consume plenty of protein-rich foods will develop
less quantities of acid in their mouth and rather be secured
from dental caries. This might be the reason for fewer
number of cases among the nonvegetarian (mixed diet)
population.12
When the diet is deficient in nutrients, such as
vitamins D, B2, B12, and calcium, which are plentiful
in meat and dairy products, vitamin deficiencies can
occur easily. Deficiency of vitamins C and D and calcium
can cause teeth to become softer over time, which makes
them more susceptible to tooth decay and periodontal
disease.
A study done by Lukacs and Largaespada13 indicated
that higher caries rates were found more often among
females than males. The reasons put forward by them
for this reason were (1) longer exposure of girls’ teeth to
the cariogenic oral environment due to earlier eruption
of teeth in girls, (2) better access to food supplies and
frequent snacking during food preparation by women,
and (3) pregnancy.
The current study also showed higher caries incidence
among females. Further investigations have to be done
to obtain a strong reason for the same.
The study population receiving care at a university
dental camp may be reflected as biased to the subject
pool. Patients may have chosen this location for numer-
ous reasons. It is likely that patients may have selected
the camp for financial reasons, and studies have shown
that oral health and dietary habits are influenced by
socioeconomic status.
CONCLUSION
This study speaks in favor that vegetarians have an
increased risk of dental caries compared with nonvegetar-
ians and DMFT score (p = 0.001). To be specific, vegetar-
ians regularly consuming more quantities of fruits should
be guided about the cariogenic and erosive potential of
fruits. The results of this study suggest that the vegetarian
diet in Sullia Taluk population may produce deleterious
effects on the oral health, and its associations have to be
studied further.
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