European Archives of Paediatric Dentistry

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 5–17 | Cite as

Intake of sweet drinks and sweet treats versus reported and observed caries experience

  • J. G. Lee
  • L. B. MesserEmail author


AIM: This was to study the intakes of sweet drinks and sweet treats of children and their caries risk using the Paediatric Risk Assessment Tool (PRAT, 2003) and Caries-risk Assessment Tool (CAT, 2007–8). STUDY DESIGN: Parents of 266 healthy primary school children completed the PRAT questionnaire during their child’s dental appointment at the Royal Dental Hospital of Melbourne, Australia, describing their fluid and sweet treat intakes in the past 24 hours, oral hygiene practices and past caries. A subgroup (n=100) was examined clinically (CAT) for caries requiring restoration, visible plaque, gingivitis, orthodontic appliances, enamel defects, and use of dental care. RESULTS: The estimated mean daily fluid intake was 1.5±0.5L; fluids were consumed 3–5/day by 57% of children and 78% usually had evening/night drinks. Fluids consumed were: tap water by 90%, milk by 74%, juice by 50%, regular soft drink by 30%; sweet treats were consumed by 62% and confectionery by 25%. Most children (69%) brushed their teeth ≥2/day; 5% flossed daily. Parentally-reported caries was associated significantly with increasing treats frequency (p=0.006). In the subgroup, 81% were at high caries risk; 47% had irregular dental care; 21% had sweet drinks/foods frequently between meals; 49% had visible plaque/gingivitis, and 34% had enamel demineralisation. Caries observed in the past 12 months was associated significantly with evening sweet drinks (p=0.004), and suboptimal fluoride exposure (p=0.009). Caries observed in the past 24 months was associated significantly with treats frequency (p=0.006), intake of sweet drinks plus treats (p=0.000), enamel demineralisation (p=0.000) and irregular dental care (p=0.000). CONCLUSIONS: The PRAT and CAT are valuable tools in assessing children’s caries risk. The risk of caries from frequent intake of sweet drinks, either alone or in addition to sweet treats, must be emphasised to parents. All parents, and particularly those of children assessed at high risk from intakes of sweet drinks and sweet treats, suboptimal fluoride exposure, or enamel demineralisation, must be encouraged to obtain regular dental care for their children.

Key words

Sweet drinks sweet treats reported caries observed caries 


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Copyright information

© Adis International 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dept. Paediatric Dentistry, Melbourne Dental SchoolThe University of MelbourneVictoriaAustralia

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