Abstract: Aim The present study aimed to evaluate the association between caries and oral health status, age, salivary cortisol levels, and parental education in children with and without prior dental caries experience.
Methods An observational case-control study was performed including 122 children aged between 3 and 6 years who were clinically examined for caries experience using the sum of decayed, missing, and filled teeth in the primary (dmft index) and permanent (DMFT index) dentition. Oral health status was also evaluated using the Simplified Oral Hygiene index (OHI-S). Parents filled a questionnaire to provide information on other variables. Salivary cortisol levels were estimated 1 h after routine dental brushing.
Results We found that dental caries experience was associated with cortisol level, plaque, age, and high calculus levels. High cortisol levels and age are important risk factors for caries development with odds ratios of 3.05 (95% CI: 1.84–5.06) and 1.59 (95% CI: 1.09–2.58), respectively. Multivariate logistic analysis showed that cortisol level and age were independently associated with caries presence. Caries experience was not associated with education of parents, feeding-hygiene habits of child or birth events.
Conclusion The present findings support the hypothesis that caries is mainly correlated with high salivary cortisol levels. Dental caries experience in children was also positively associated with tartar, plaque, and age.