Sugar and dental caries: a review of human studies

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Science  30 Jul 1982:
Vol. 217, Issue 4558, pp. 418-423
DOI: 10.1126/science.7046052


Studies of special population groups, epidemiological surveys, controlled longitudinal studies of humans, and longitudinal studies on the effect of sugar substitutes indicate that frequent or high intake of sugary foods predisposes to dental decay. The relation is not always clear-cut, and most studies have important methodological problems and limitations. Longitudinal measurements of caries increments combined with multiple dietary histories are needed to clarity the association between caries and eating habits. The relative cariogenicity of specific foods can be assessed by a combination of in vitro tests, human in vivo tests, and experimental caries in animals. Human diets, however, vary in food items eaten and the frequency and sequence of eating, and these factors can affect the cariogenicity of a food. Therefore, reported correlations must be interpreted with caution.