Advances in Anthropology
2012. Vol.2, No.3, 112-116
Published Online August 2012 in SciRes (
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s .
A Study on Nutritional Status and Dental Caries in Permanent
Teeth among School Going Girl of Bengalee Population, India
Madhumati Chatterjee, Arup Ratan Bandyopadhyay*
Department of Anthropology, University College of Science, Technology and Agriculture,
University of Calcutta, Kolkata, India
Email: *, *
Received June 4th, 2012; revised July 5th, 2012; accepted July 15th, 2012
Variations in tooth eruption patterns are supposed to have multifactorial reasons and etiologic factors to
explain variation in caries are unsatisfactory. Prevalence of caries is comparatively higher in the children
of developing countries than that of the children of same age in developed countries. Indian studies on the
dental caries mostly in children related to prevalence and treatment. However, nutritional effect on dental
caries on Indian school going children is yet to be carried out in eastern India. This study investigated the
prevalence of dental caries in permanent teeth and nutritional status among the 544 school going children
(girls) of 6 - 19 years age group of Bengalee ethnicity of West Bengal, India. Caries was recorded based
on DMFT index following basic guidelines for Oral Health Surveys guideline (WHO). Nutritional status
was obtained using BMI and classification of nutritional status was achieved using the standards of WHO
and CDC growth charts include an age- and sex-specific BMI reference for children aged 2 - 20 years.
The overall prevalence of dental caries was 44.5% and mean DMFT was 0.45 1.57. Nutritional status
demonstrated, about 30% and 6.69% of schools going girls were underweight and overweight respectively.
Occurrence of dental caries was found in all permanent teeth among the girls of underweight and normal
according to their BMI-for age status. Furthermore, a significant association (p < 0.05) with occurrence of
dental caries among the underweight girls has been found compared to that of the overweight and normal.
This study indicates a close relationship between nutritional status and dental caries in this region.
Keywords: Dental Caries; Permanent Teeth; Nutritional Status
Variations in tooth eruption patterns are supposed to have
Multifactorial reasons (Robinow, 1973; Reid & Dean, 2005)
and also generally accepted etiologic factors are unsatisfactory
to explain variation in caries in observational studies (Granath
et al., 1991). Dental caries is a global disease with few popula-
tions exempt from its effects. In developing countries, as de-
velopment increases so does dental caries and children are at
the forefront of the disease disadvantage (Naidoo & Myburgh,
2007). The strongest association, however, emerges to occur
between dental eruption and skeletal growth (Garn et al., 1960;
Demirjian et al., 1985). Early under nutrition in childhood af-
fects skeletal growth and results in decreased height. Similarly,
poor nutrition affects tooth eruption and outcome demonstrated
delayed emergence of the deciduous teeth. There appears to be
a physiological association between skeletal growth and tooth
eruption (Barrett & Brown, 1966; Mukherjee, 1973; Rami-
Reddy et al., 1986; Banerjee et al., 1992; Alvarez, 1995; Chiu
et al., 2012). A change in the pattern of tooth eruption should
result in a concomitant change in the age distribution of dental
caries in the primary teeth. Russell et al., (1965) reported that
caries was substantially more severe in the deciduous teeth than
permanent teeth with substantial ethnic variability (Yassin &
Low, 1975) regard to dental caries in both deciduous and per-
manent teeth have also been observed (Ludwig et al., 1964).
Dental diseases impact considerably on self-esteem and quality
of life and are expensive to treat. Study regarding caries preva-
lence among three distinct ethnic groups of five-year-old chil-
dren demonstrated that mean caries prevalence values were
higher among the Asian children (Prendergast et al., 1989). In
children from less-developed countries, the prevalence of caries
in deciduous teeth was found to be traditionally high in com-
parison to that of the children of same ages in developed coun-
tries and it is either similar or frequently higher (Russel, 1966;
Mascarenhas, 1999; Cleaton-Jones et al., 2006). Indian studies
on dental caries mostly carried out in adult and elderly popula-
tion (Shah, 2003; Shah & Sundaram, 2004) in relation to socio-
demography, hygiene, and diet and in children (Mandal et al.,
2001; Mahejabeen et al., 2006) related to prevalence and treat-
ment as well. However, effect of nutrition in dental caries on
Indian school children is yet to be carried out.
The present study is an attempt to investigate the effect of
nutrition on caries development in permanent dentition among
the school going girls of Howrah district, West Bengal, India.
To best of the knowledge no studies has been reported on nu-
triational status and dental caries in permanent dentition among
Eastern Indian population so far.
Materials and Methods
The cross-sectional study has been conducted on randomly
selected 544 socio-economically middle class schoolgirls de-
termined on the basis of their parents’ income of Bengalee ori-
gin from Howrah district of West Bengal, India with the age
range of 6 to 19 years and the mean age being 12.05 3.23 SD
*Corresponding author.
years. Age of the girls has been obtained by confirming the date
of birth from the school register. Dental eruption has been
studied on the basis of the presence of crown in the gum and as
well as by the shape, size, colour and sharpness for the perma-
nent dentition. After taking consent from the individuals, apart
from data regarding dental eruption and observation of caries,
other biosocial information regarding monthly household in-
come, number of family members, parity, birth order, hygiene
practices etc. was taken by a specially prepared pre-tested
The study participants were examined for oral evaluations on
an upright chair in adequate natural light using dental mouth
mirror and explorer, following the World Health Organization’s
Basic Guidelines for Oral Health Surveys (WHO, 1997). Caries
was recorded based on DMFT (Decayed, Missing and Filled
Teeth) index. Nutritional status was evaluated by anthropome-
try taken from each girl following standard techniques (Lohman
et al., 1988; Malina & Bouchard, 2004). Stature were measured
to the nearest 0.1 cm while, while weight was measured to the
nearest 0.1 kg with least clothing by the female investigator.
BMI was calculated as weight (kg)/Stature2 (m) and classifica-
tion of nutritional status was achieved using the standard of
WHO (1995) and also new growth charts from the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) include an age- and
sex-specific BMI reference for children aged 2 - 20 year
(Kuczmarski et al., 2000, 2002) has been followed. All con-
tinuous variables were checked for normality and were found to
be not negatively skewed. All data were double checked for any
possible typological error. Technical error of measurement
(TEM) (Ulijaszek & Lourie, 1994) values was found to be be-
tween 0.000 and 0.351 considering the anthropometric vari-
ables. All statistical analyses have been done with the help of
SPSS 9.0 statistical software.
Results and Discussion
The characteristics of the studied population (Table 1) de-
monstrated a steady increase of stature and weight from 6 - 10
years of age group to 15 - 19 years of age group. So far the
nutritional status concern all the age groups revealed almost
similar frequency of underweight (BMI < 5th percentile), while
the 11 - 14 years of age group demonstrated slightly higher
overweight (BMI > 85th percentile) in comparison to 6 - 14 and
15 - 19 years of age group. It would be apparent from Table 1
that, the prevalence of dental caries was found to be highest in
11 - 14 years of age group (20.07%) compared to those of 6 -
14 years and 15 - 19 years of age group. The median ages of the
eruption of the permanent teeth in the present Bengalee School
going girls demonstrated (Table 2) earlier eruption of mandi-
bular and maxillary central Incisor. Late eruption was noticed
in maxillary second Molar teeth, while permanent canine teeth
demonstrated late eruption in both the maxilla and mandible.
Examination on dental eruption revealed total absence of third
molar in the present sample. The median age of eruption of per-
manent dentition, however, in corroboration within the range of
Indian samples (Kaul et al., 1975; Bhasin et al., 1977; Kaul &
Table 1.
Characteristics of the studied population.
Age Group
Variables 6 - 10 Years 11 - 14 Year s 15 - 19 Year s
Stature (cm) 125.73 8.27 147.87 7.66 153.74 4.36
Weight (kg) 26.02 9.6 4 42.86 11.06 50.29 11.05
Nutritional Status
Underweight (BMI < 5th Percentile) 9.88% 10.76% 9.36%
Overweight (BMI > 85th Pe rcentile) 2.22% 3.39% 1.08%
Caries Prevalence
Prevalence of Carries 11.34% 20.07% 13.09%
Table 2.
Median age (in years) of eruption of permane nt t ee t h among Bengalee School girls.
Maxilla Mandible
Permanent Teeth Upper Left Upper Right Lowe r Left Lower Right
Medial Inc isor (I1) 6.2 5.7 5.6 5.7
Lateral Incisor (I2) 7.7 7.2 6.6 6.7
Canine (C) 11.3 11.2 11.5 11.4
First Prem olar (P1) 10.1 10.2 11.3 11.5
Second Pre molar (P2) 10.9 11.4 10.4 11.9
First Molar (M1) 6.2 6.0 5.9 5.9
Second Molar (M2) 10.9 11.5 11.9 11.9
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s . 113
Pathak, 1983) but a secular trend of early eruption of all perma-
nent teeth has been noticed in comparison to prior study con-
ducted on Bengalee School going girls (Banerjee et al., 1985).
In the present sample (544) about 30% of school going girls
were underweight, while normal and overweight were 63.08%
and 6.92% respectively, on the basis of BMI-for age. Examina-
tion on BMI—for age among the girls with dental caries re-
vealed about 41.83% of the girls was underweight (Table 3)
and 41.18% of the girls were normal. On the other hand about
17% of the girls with dental caries were overweight.
The overall prevalence of dental caries was 44.5% and the
mean DMFT was found to be 0.45 1.57. A trend of age effect
on DFMT has been found in terms of higher occurrence of
dental caries in higher ages. Occurrence of dental caries was
found in all kinds of permanent dentition among the girls of
underweight and normal according to their BMI—for age status.
Contrary to that overweight girls demonstrated teeth wise vari-
ation in occurrence of dental caries and complete absence in
Premolars. A significant association with occurrence of dental
caries (p < 0.05) among the underweight girls has been found
compared to that of the overweight and normal (p < 0.05).
Teeth wise comparison, however, revealed almost similar inci-
dences of dental caries among the underweight and normal girls
with slightly higher incidences of caries in Molar teeth among
the normal girls. Dental caries in Canine were found to be sig-
nificantly (p < 0.05) higher among the overweight girls in com-
parison to their normal and underweight counterparts. In gene-
ral the occurrence of dental caries has been noticed mostly
(33.99%) in Molars, followed by Incisors (32.02%) and Pre-
molars (14.38%).
Although dental caries has been declining globally in general
population, more so among adults, but the caries prevalence in
younger age has not shown a significant decline. Majority of
the studies were on school going children because of their ac-
cessibility (Holm, 1990) which is not so in preschool children.
In the present study prevalence of dental caries in permanent
dentition demonstrate lower incidences (44.1%) than the find-
ing of Mahejabeen et al., (2006) from southern part of India in
preschool children and in corroboration with the study from
Eastern India (Mondal et al., 2001) and as well as mean DMFT
among the school children of Kerala, India (David et al., 2005).
The overall nutritional status in terms of BMI—for age in the
present study among the Bengalee School going girls, however,
corroborate with earlier studies (Ghosh & Bandyopadhyay,
2006; Ghosh & Bandyopadhyay, 2009) on Bengalee school-
girls and adults. Examination on prevalence of dental caries in
the present study revealed that the underweight group was sig-
nificantly higher (p < 0.05) than normal and overweight cate-
gories. However, cross sectional study from South East Asia
(Narksawat et al., 2009) also revealed normal and thin school-
children had a higher risk for dental caries than overweight and
obese children aged 12 - 14 y ears. Longitudinal study (D elg ado -
Angulo et al., 2012) demonstrated stunting being one of the risk
factors of dental caries in permanent dentition as well. Oral
health and nutrition have a synergistic bidirectional relationship
and nutrition and diet may affect the development and integrity
of the oral cavity towards the progression of oral diseases
(Touger-Decker & Mobley, 2007). Under nutrition in children
not only delay the teeth development and affect the age distri-
bution of dental caries, but also resulted in a higher number of
carious primary teeth (Alvarez et al., 1990). The low socioeco-
nomic class having the highest caries experience (Rahmatulla,
1993). Contrary to that, the tribal children exhibited a low
prevalence of dental caries, both in primary and permanent
dentitions, compared to rural and urban Indian children of the
same age (Jalili, 1993; Rao & Bharambhe, 1993; Honne, 2011).
Studies envisaged dental caries in deciduous dentition is a
risk indicator for dental caries in permanent dentition (Delgado-
Angulo, 2006) and caries status in the primary teeth can be used
as a risk indicator for predicting caries in the permanent denti-
tion (Li & Wang, 2002). The multiple survival analysis con-
firmed that there has been major impact of the caries status of
the deciduous dentition on the incidence of cavities in perma-
nent molars (Leroy et al., 2005).
The use of peak caries activity has allowed the observation of
a strong association between malnutrition and increased dental
caries (Alvarez, 1995). It was found that chronic malnutrition
vis a vis under nutrition reduced the secretion rate of stimulated
saliva, but not that of unstimulated saliva. The salivary buffer
capacity was continuously decreased as the secretion rate de-
creased with the level of malnutrition and under nutrition in the
Indian children. The malnourished children developed in-
creased caries and chronic malnutrition in growing children en-
hances the cariogenic potential stemming from fermentable car-
bohydrates (Johansson et al., 1992). Studies also demonstrated
that the absence (Lenander-Lumikari & Loimaranta, 2000;
Uehara et al., 2003; Bergandi et al., 2007) due to deletion of
locus (Klingberg, 2007) related to salivary soluble CD14 could
represent a useful index of caries activity. Enamel hypoplasia,
salivary glandular hypofunction and saliva compositional
changes might be mechanisms through which malnutrition is
associated with caries (Psoter et a l., 2005). The pattern of denta l
Table 3.
Incidences of dental caries in permanent teeth according to nutritional status represente d b y BMI in Be n ga le e School girls.
Permanent Dentition
Nutritional Statu s on the
Basis of BMI I1 I2 C P1 P2 M1 M2 Total
BMI < 5th Perc entile 15
(23.43) 8
(12.50) 10
(15.63) 8
(12.50) 3
(4.69) 12
(18.75) 8
(12.50) 64
BMI 20
(31.75) 3
(4.76) 2
(3.17) 7
(11.4) 4
(6.35) 12
(19.05) 15
(23.81) 63
BMI > 85th Percentile 3
(11.54) - 18
(69.23) - - 3
(11.54) 2
(7.69) 26
Note: Figures in the (parenthes is ) denote s percenta g e.
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s .
caries in the present sample demonstrated that the prevalence of
caries in the posterior teeth overall increased among the under-
weight and normal girls compared to the anterior teeth. The
similar pattern and findings has been found from India (Mahe-
jabeen et al., 2006) and as well as from other parts of the world
(Bjarnason et al., 1995; Kerosuo & Honkala, 1991; O’Sullivan
& Tinanoff, 1996; Raadal et al., 1993).
This study indicates a close relationship between nutritional
status and dental caries in this region. Thus, instilling the posi-
tive attitudes towards the nutritional aspect of the family to-
wards the prevention of dental caries among the school going
children would reduce the prevalence at this tender age of life.
Authors are grateful to the students and authority of Tara-
sundari Balika Vidyabhaban, Howrah, West Bengal, India for
their cooperation in the study. Partial financial supports were
provided from Departmental Grant [B.I. 65 (8 & 9)], Depart-
ment of Anthropology, UCSTA, University of Calcutta and
SAP program [ASIHSS Program] (UGC), Department of An-
thropology, UCSTA, University of Calcutta.
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