The aim of this study was to examine the association of food insecurity on the prevalence of dental caries in preschool children.
Eighty‐two children, aged 12‐71 months old, from the Marquette University School of Dentistry Community South Clinic and their caregivers participated in this cross‐sectional study. Following informed consent, parents completed the validated six‐item US Department of Agriculture food insecurity questionnaire and questions regarding demographic information and family structure. Upon clinical examination caries was recorded using the decayed, missing, filled teeth (dmft) index based on the International Caries Detection and Assessment System criteria.
The correlation between dmft and food insecurity was found statistically significant (P = 0.002, R2 = 0.115), and children of higher food insecurity demonstrated higher levels of dental caries. Food insecurity was also positively correlated with parental age (P = 0.034), whereby higher levels of food insecurity were associated with the father being less than 25 years of age. Results from the questionnaire revealed that 58.5 percent of the families were fully secure, 11.0 percent had marginal, 24.4 percent had low, and 6.1 percent had very low food security. Results from clinical examination reported dmft 4.09 ± 4.38, dt 2.20 ± 2.83, and ft 1.83 ± 2.95. Most of the children (79.7 percent) were Hispanic, 53.1 percent were female and the median age of the sample was 48 months.
Results of the present study suggest that preschool children with food insecurity have higher levels of dental caries.