Abstract – Objectives: The aim of this study was to investigate the association between selected social and behavioural variables and the pattern and severity of early childhood caries (ECC) within a community child population.
Methods: A cross-sectional sample of 2515 children aged 4–5 years were examined in a preschool setting using decayed, missing, filled teeth/surface (dmft/dmfs) indices and a self-administered questionnaire was used to obtain information regarding social, demographic, birth, infant feeding, oral and general health attitudes. Children with caries (847) were divided into anterior or posterior caries pattern groups and severe (dmfs score ≥6) or non-severe (dmfs score <6) caries groups. The data were analysed using a chi-square test and modelled using a logistic regression procedure.
Results: Significant variables associated with anterior ECC pattern were ethnicity other than Caucasian (OR = 2.1, 95% CI = 1.4–3.1), sipping from the bottle during the day (OR = 1.9, 95% CI = 1.3–2.7), male gender (OR = 1.6, 95% CI = 1.2–2.2) and sleeping with a bottle at night (OR = 1.5, 95% CI = 1.1–2.2). Significant variables associated with severe ECC form were sipping from the bottle during the day (OR = 2, 95% CI = 1.4–2.8), maternal age at birth ≤24 years (OR = 1.8, 95% CI = 1.3–2.7), ethnicity other than Caucasian (OR = 1.6, 95% CI = 1.1–2.5) and sleeping with a bottle at night (OR = 1.5, 95% CI = 1.1–2.2).
Conclusions: Infant bottle-feeding habits (either allowing a child to sip from a bottle during the day or put to sleep at night) and ethnicity other than Caucasian were significant determinants for both anterior caries pattern and severity of ECC in 4–5-year-old Australian children.