Aim: To investigate existing caries risk factors in preschool children and to illustrate their caries risk profiles graphically with aid of a computer-based program.
Materials and methods: All 2-year-old children from a small town in northern Sweden were invited and 87% (n = 125) accepted to participate. Data was collected with a questionnaire concerning the child's normal diet and sugar consumption. Special care was taken to note the intake of sweet drinks and sugary between-meal products. Questions on general health and medication, toothbrushing frequency with parental help and use of fluorides were also included. The caries prevalence was recorded with mirror and probe and the level of oral mutans streptococci was enumerated with a chair-side technique. The obtained data were computerised in a risk assessment program (Cariogram) and a graphical profile of each child was constructed.
Results: The caries prevalence was 6%, and 18% had detectable levels of oral mutans streptococci. The sugar consumption was strikingly high with 82% and 97% having ice cream and sweets once a week or more often. In 22% of the families, toothbrushing with parental help was not a daily routine. Of the children, 51% displayed a low chance (0-20%) of avoiding caries in the future. The frequency of sugar consumption was the most pertinent factor in the children's caries risk profiles.
Conclusions: Half of the subjects exhibited a low chance of avoiding caries in the near future and the strongest single factor was frequent sugar consumption. Thus efforts to limit and reduce the sugar intake in young children are important measures for primary caries prevention.