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What is the Impact of Between-Meal Sugary Snacks and Beverages on Early Childhood Caries?

During the most recent conference of the IADR/AADR/CADR, a variety of new oral health research studies were presented. One of them is the impact of between-meal sugary snacks and beverages on early childhood caries. The topic is somewhat under researched and a group of researchers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, attempted to answer some of the related questions. 

I interviewed Dr. Walid Al-Soneidar, a PhD student in the Department of Epidemiology and a Research Assistant in the Department of Dental Ecology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. 

The conference of the International Association of Dental Research/the American Association of Dental Research/Canadian Association of Dental Research is an annual event that gathers oral health researchers worldwide and explores the latest in the world of oral health research.

I hope you enjoy the conversation. We are always seeking your feedback, suggestions, and questions at oasisdiscussions@cda-adc.ca

Until next time!

Chiraz Guessaier, CDA Oasis Manager 


  • Dietary sugars constitute a well-established causal component in early childhood caries (ECC) development. However, evidence for the prevalence and role of frequent between-meal sugar-containing snacks and beverages (BMSB) consumption is scant.
  • The authors sought to: a) determine the prevalence and socio-demographic correlates of BMSB consumption, and b) quantify the association between BMSB and clinically-determined dental caries, in the context of a community-based genetic epidemiologic study of early childhood oral health.
  • Forty-nine percent of the examined children had caries experience; most (66%) reported moderate BMSB consumption, whereas 29% and 5% reported low and high consumption, respectively. BMSB differed between racial groups with African-Americans having the highest consumption.
  • Caries prevalence was higher among those with ‘high’ and ‘moderate’ BMSB consumption compared to ‘low’. Adjustment for children’s and parents’ socio-demographic characteristics, slightly attenuated the estimate of association between ‘high’ vs. ‘low’ BMSB consumption and dental caries.
  • There was a strong positive gradient between the frequency of BMSB consumption and dental caries, irrespective of children’s socio-demographic characteristics. Concerted family-, community-, and system-level efforts are warranted to reduce sugar exposure and thus promote oral health among vulnerable populations of preschool-age children.

Full Interview (13.43″)



  1. What an important clinically relevant topic. Thanks for publishing this report of a credible research study. I would expect nothing less from JCDA-OASIS, of course, but wanted to post a shout out to you for your choice of subject matter.

  2. this an interesting investigation that can provide scientific evidence for a common assertion amongst our dental community. However, I wonder if this specific investigation showed a “trend” or a statistically significant difference amongst the groups. The plots certainly do not appear to show that! thank you.

    • Walid Al-Soneidar

      Dr. Nouri, that is a very good question! Indeed, the Cochran-Armitage test for trend was significant for both parental education and frequency of snacks and beverages variables. The p-value for these tests can be found on the upper right corner of the respective slides. Regards, -Walid Al-Soneidar

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