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Bull Tokyo Dent Coll. 2008 May;49(2):59-63.

Longitudinal study on influence of prolonged non-nutritive sucking habits on dental caries in Japanese children from 1.5 to 3 years of age.

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  • 1Department of Pediatric Dentistry, Tokyo Dental College, Chiba, Japan.


The purpose of the present study was to investigate the relationship between infant sucking habits and the prevalence of caries in Japanese preschool children.The study was designed as a prospective, longitudinal study starting with 592 children aged 18 months. Information on sucking habits and patterns of feeding was collected from parents in the form of a questionnaire. Children who continued breastor bottle-feeding at 18 months of age were eliminated prior to the evaluations. The children were divided into 3 groups according to their sucking habits at 18 months of age: Group 1: children with a finger-sucking habit (n=151); Group 2: children who used a pacifier (n=45) and Group 3: children with no oral habit (n=205). Clinical examinations were carried out by one of the authors.Mean dft and prevalence of caries were not statistically significant among the 3 groups at 18 months of age. However, only 10.6% of the children in Group 1 exhibited caries at 36 months of age, compared with 17.1% in Group 3 and 24.4% in Group 2. Group 1 children showed the smallest mean dft at 0.30 among the 3 groups at 36 months of age, and those in Group 2 showed 1.18; the difference was statistically significant (p<0.01).The results suggest that children with a finger-sucking habit are more likely to be free of caries by the age of 3. However, use of pacifier at 18 months of age is a potential risk factor for the development of dental caries in children.

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