Sensitivity to sweet and bitter taste in mother/child pairs and its influence on their caries status
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Introduction: Dental caries has one the highest incidences in children and the host’s diet may be a major factor in determining susceptibility to the disease. A proposed tool to screen and identify high risk individuals uses a bitter compound 6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP). The goal of this screening tool is to identify mothers and children who are Non-tasters (those who cannot taste PROP) and to educate them about their possible affinity towards sugar substances and its harmful effects on oral and general health. It is suggested that Non-taster children could be prioritized when providing preventative dental treatment. Aim: To validate the use of PROP as a screening tool for determining high caries risk individuals by identifying the taster status of mothers and children, their preference towards sugar, and its impact on their caries status. Methodology: 75 mother/ child pairs were recruited to participate in this study. Caries experience, sugar preference and taster status were determined for all the subjects. Comparisons were made between mothers and their children to find a possible association. Results: Caries experience was greater in individuals who were Non-tasters when compared to Super-tasters. A significant association between taster status and DMFT score was established (p<0.000). A significant association between taster status and sugar preference was established (p<0.000). A positive correlation with regard to taster status, sugar preference and caries experience was observed in mother/child pairs. Conclusion: Similarities in the mother's and child’s PROP taster status and its association with sugar preference allows such a screening test to identify individuals who are at high risk of developing dental caries. Early identification of mothers who are Non-tasters may allow the introduction of early intervention strategies and assist in the early detection of potentially high-risk children, especially in environments where resources are limited.