Title: Association of salivary Streptococcus mutans with caries in young children: effect of dental health education on salivary levels
Abstract: Aim This study aimed to determine the effect of a long-term dental health education (DHE) for mothers with young children on the level of salivary Streptococci mutans (SM) and their association with caries in young children. Methods A randomly selected cohort of 228 children born between 1 January and 30 September 1995, in a low socioeconomic high caries suburb of Leeds (UK), was divided into the following groups: A) DHE focused on diet; B) DHE focused on oral hygiene instruction (OHI) using fluoride toothpaste; C) DHE by a combined diet and OHI message. DHE was given using an interview and counselling for at least 15 minutes in each child’s home, every three months for the first two years and twice a year in the third year of the study. A fourth group D was given diet and OHI, at home, but once a year only. The children in a fifth group E (control), received no DHE and were never visited, but examined at three years of age only. All children and mothers were examined for caries using the BASCD criteria. The levels of salivary SM were determined by sampling of bacteria from the oral cavity with a 1.8 cm wide wooden spatula, after giving the mother a paraffin pellet to chew for a minute and in children using unstimulated saliva. Bacteria were plated out and counted using image analysis for counting colonies. Results At three years of age the difference in the level of salivary SM between groups was not statistically significant. However, in group E there was a statistically significant relationship (p<0.05) between salivary SM and caries in children. Conclusion The difference in the level of salivary SM between groups given various programs of dental health education was not statistically significant. There was a statistically significant (p<0.05) relationship between salivary MS and caries in children.