Effect of anticipatory guidance on the presence of cariogenic bacteria in preschool children
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Objectives: This study was designed to address whether or not the level (high or low) of Streptococcus mutans in the saliva of preschool children can be used as an indicator of caries risk. Material and Methods: Levels of Streptococcus mutans was assessed in saliva of 100 preschool children, before and approximately 6-months after receiving a health promotion intervention known as anticipatory guidance. The S. mutans bacterial level was assessed using an immunoassay system (Saliva-Check MUTANS) based on monoclonal antibody technology. Bacterial counts were determined at baseline as well as at a six month recall examination. Obtained data was analyzed using SPSS 20.0 for Windows to report frequencies and to look for trends and associations between the dependent and independent variables. Bivariate analysis (ANOVA, Chi Square/Fishers/McNemar exact test) was used to identify associations between variables. Results: The main finding of this study was that higher levels of Streptococcus mutans were associated with higher caries prevalence at baseline, and caries incidence at follow-up. Furthermore following anticipatory guidance, the levels of Streptococcus mutans were reduced at the subsequent follow-up examination, approaching but not reaching statistical significance, and caries incidence was significantly lower in subjects demonstrating low Streptococcus mutans levels. Conclusions: Results from this study have shown that anticipatory guidance, offered to caregivers and children at an initial examination, led to a statistically non-significant reduction in the proportion of children with high Streptococcus mutans levels upon recall six mothers later. Children with low Streptococcus mutans levels were also less likely to develop new dental caries. These findings suggest that Streptococcus Mutans counts could be used to assess caries risk and encourages clinicians to provide anticipatory guidance to their patients to help avoid the development of new caries.