Comparison of the intakes of sugar by young children with and without dental caries experience
Relationships among sugars and dental caries in contemporary societies are unclear. The authors describe young children's intakes of nonmilk extrinsic (NME) and intrinsic/milk sugars and relate those intakes to dental caries. The authors conducted cross-sectional analyses of dietary data collected from the Iowa Fluoride Study using three-day diaries for subjects at ages 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 years and for subjects aged 1 through 5 years according to dental caries experience at 4.5 to 6.9 years of age. They categorized foods and beverages as containing NME or intrinsic/milk sugars. Subjects' total, NME, food NME and intrinsic/milk sugars intakes at ages studied did not differ between subjects with and without caries experience. Beverage NME sugars intakes at age 3 years predicted caries (P < .05) in logistic regression models adjusted for age at dental examination and for fluoride intake. Dental caries is a complex, multifactorial disease process dependent on the presence of oral bacteria, a fermentable carbohydrate substrate and host enamel. A simple NME-intrinsic/milk sugars categorization appears insufficient to capture the complex dietary component of the caries process. Cariogenicity is more likely a function of the food and/or beverage vehicle delivering the sugar and the nature of exposure-that is, frequency and length of eating events-than of the sugar's categorization.