• diabetes;
  • Gullah African Americans;
  • root caries;
  • serum albumin

Marlow NM, Slate EH, Bandyopadhyay D, Fernandes JK, Salinas CF. An evaluation of serum albumin, root caries, and other covariates in Gullah African Americans with type-2 diabetes. Community Dent Oral Epidemiol 2011; 39: 186–192. © 2010 John Wiley & Sons A/S

Abstract –  Objectives:  Associations between dental conditions and overall health have been previously reported. Investigators have also shown significant inverse relationships between serum albumin (a general health status marker) and root caries. This relationship was explored among a study population of Gullah African Americans (who have a considerably lower level of non-African genetic admixture when compared to other African American populations) with type-2 diabetes (T2DM) and self-reported history of normal kidney function (= 280).

Methods:  Root caries indices were defined as total decayed and/or filled root surfaces. The coronal caries index [total decayed, missing, and/or filled coronal surfaces (DMFS)], level of glycemic control, total number of teeth, and other covariates were also evaluated. Logistic regression models were used to evaluate the associations between these factors and hypoalbuminemia (serum albumin concentrations <4 g/dl).

Results:  Serum albumin concentrations ranged 2.4–4.5 g/dl (mean = 3.8, SD = 0.3), with 70.4% exhibiting hypoalbuminemia. Root caries totals ranged 0–38 (mean = 1.3, SD = 4.5) surfaces decayed/filled, while total teeth ranged 1–28 (mean = 19.4, SD = 6.2). DMFS totals ranged 2–116 (mean = 55.2, SD = 28.0). We failed to detect significant associations for root caries; however, the final multivariable logistic regression models showed significant associations between hypoalbuminemia and total teeth [odds ratio (OR) = 0.93, P = 0.01], poor glycemic control (OR = 2.49, < 0.01), elevated C-reactive protein (OR = 1.57, < 0.01), glomerular filtration rates ≥60 (OR = 0.31, P = 0.03), and age (OR = 0.97, P = 0.03).

Conclusions:  Previously reported inverse relationships between serum albumin and root caries were not evident in our study population. We propose that these null findings are because of the considerably lower level of root caries as well as other differing characteristics (including oral health status, the chronic presence of T2DM, and predominantly younger age) within our study population compared to these previously assessed groups.