MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: Dental caries is a process during which oral bacteria ferment carbohydrates to produce acid. The acid demineralizes enamel and/or dentin at the tooth surface leading to white spots and eventually cavitation in the tooth. Added sugars – those not naturally present in foods or beverages, but rather added during processing – are the primary type of carbohydrate associated with caries. Sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs; beverages with added sugars) are the food/beverage category most associated with dental caries.
Historically, fluoride has protected against caries through remineralization of the enamel. However, there has been some question as to whether fluoride’s ability to protect against caries is overwhelmed by the quantity of added sugars currently consumed.
Oral hygiene behaviors – brushing and flossing – are thought protect against caries by disrupting the oral bacteria on the tooth.
Most studies have investigated dietary factors and caries during early childhood, with less attention paid to caries during adolescence.
Our objective was to identify associations between longitudinal beverage intakes and adolescent caries experience, while also considering fluoride intake and tooth brushing behaviors.
We followed a group of children from birth through age 17 years; during this time period, we looked at their beverage intakes, fluoride intakes and brushing behaviors every 3-6 months. We calculated their average milk, 100% juice, SSB, water/water-based beverage and fluoride intakes from 6 months through 17 years, and daily tooth brushing from 1 through 17 years.