Purpose: The purpose of this study was to assess the relationship between dietary patterns and dental caries severity in low-income African American children.
Methods: The participants were 3- to 5-year-old African American children in Detroit, Mich, with household incomes below 250% of the 2000 federal poverty level (N=436). Dietary intakes were obtained using the Block Kids Food Questionnaire. Dental caries in primary teeth were measured by the International Caries Detection and Assessment System criteria. The mean number of decoyed surfaces (noncavitated and cavitated, missing, and filled surfaces [dmfs]) for each child was estimated. Factor analysis was carried out to identify the patterns of solid food consumption. The resulting factor scores and drink variables were then used as covariates in multinomial logistic regression, with 4 levels of dmfs as the outcome. Statistical analyses were conducted using SAS and SUDAAN.
Results: Multinomial regression models found that age, soda consumption, and powdered/sport drink consumption were positively associated with dmfs scores. Milk and real juice (not orange) were associated with lower dmfs levels.
Conclusions: Children frequently consume sugared drinks, which is associated with the prevalence of dental caries. Intervention programs that promote the adoption of noncariogenic dietary alternatives for children are needed.