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Original Research

Open Access

Investigating the relationship between dental cavities and protective factors among children aged 0–5 years

  • Marlene Dontsop1
  • Kyle Nwankwo1
  • Riva Walker1
  • Christianna Potter1
  • Chau-Kuang Chen2
  • Ruth Bol1
  • Lisa Sherden1
  • Pandu R Gangula1
  • Cherae Farmer-Dixon3,*,

1Department of Oral Diagnostic Sciences & Research, Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry, Nashville, TN 37208, USA

2School of Graduate Studies, Meharry Medical College, Nashville, TN 37208, USA

3Department of Dental Public Health, School of Dentistry, Meharry Medical College, Nashville, TN 37208, USA

DOI: 10.22514/jocpd.2024.008 Vol.48,Issue 1,January 2024 pp.60-68

Submitted: 25 May 2023 Accepted: 04 July 2023

Published: 03 January 2024

*Corresponding Author(s): Cherae Farmer-Dixon E-mail:


The purpose of this study was to determine the protective factors that contribute to the prevention of children aged 0–5 years from developing dental cavities. The oral hygiene practices of 266 children aged 0–5 years were assessed through surveys administered from 2019 to 2022 to identify clinical, dietary, social and parental factors. The Partial Least Squares (PLS) Regression and Artificial Neuron Networks (ANN) Models were used to determine protective factors associated with the prevention of dental cavities in children. The race distribution of the children as identified by caregivers is as follows:(1) Black or African-American (53.4%); (2) Asian (25.9%); (3) White (18.4%); and (4) Native American (2.3%). We found behavioral protective factors to significantly affect the oral health outcome (cavities) among children aged 0–5 years (p < 0.05). We also found that children whose parents/caregivers flossed their teeth were less likely to develop cavities. In addition, children were least likely to have cavities if their parents/caregivers used toothpaste and mouthwash, avoided sharing chewed food, and refrained from drinking 100% juice. In contrast, children were more likely to obtain cavities if their parents/caregivers had a lower education level, rarely cleaned their teeth, and often consumed marijuana, cow or goat milk, juice drinks and sugary beverages. The education level of parents, and on the contrary, oral hygiene practices of the family, play a significant role in influencing the prevalence of cavities in children aged 0–5 years.


Dental caries; Protective factors; Pediatric dentistry

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Marlene Dontsop,Kyle Nwankwo,Riva Walker,Christianna Potter,Chau-Kuang Chen,Ruth Bol,Lisa Sherden,Pandu R Gangula,Cherae Farmer-Dixon. Investigating the relationship between dental cavities and protective factors among children aged 0–5 years. Journal of Clinical Pediatric Dentistry. 2024. 48(1);60-68.


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