Roles of different sources of social support on caries experience and caries increment in adolescents of East london

Caries Res. 2011;45(4):400-7. doi: 10.1159/000330370. Epub 2011 Aug 12.


Evidence on the contribution of social support to oral health is scarce. We first explored the association of social support with caries experience and the relative roles of support from family, friends and a special person on caries experience in 15-16-year-old adolescents. We then explored whether social support at 11-12 years of age predicts caries increment in second permanent molars over 4 years and the relative roles of different sources of support on 4-year caries increment. Data from phases 1 and 3 of the Research with East London Adolescents Community Health Survey (RELACHS), a school-based prospective study of a representative sample of adolescents in East London, were used for cross-sectional (phase 3) and longitudinal analyses (phases 1 and 3). Data were collected by questionnaires including the same questions on demographic characteristics, socioeconomic measures and the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support at phases 1 and 3. A questionnaire section on dental behaviours and an oral clinical examination were also included in phase 3. Social support was negatively related to both caries experience and increment independently of demographic characteristics, socioeconomic measures and dental behaviours. Furthermore, only support from a special person was significantly related to caries experience and increment in unadjusted and adjusted regression models. In conclusion, adolescents who perceived higher levels of social support had lower caries experience and increment. However, support from a special person was more relevant for these adolescents than support from family and peers.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • DMF Index
  • Dental Caries / epidemiology*
  • Dental Caries / psychology*
  • Dietary Sucrose
  • Female
  • Friends
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • London / epidemiology
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Molar
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Peer Group
  • Regression Analysis
  • Social Class
  • Social Support*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Toothbrushing / statistics & numerical data


  • Dietary Sucrose