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Sweet Taste Perception in Relation to Oral and General Health

Doctoral thesis
Authors Heba Ashi
Date of public defense 2017-11-08
ISBN 978-91-629-0264-3
Publisher University of Gothenburg. Sahlgrenska Academy, Institute of Odontology
Place of publication Göteborg
Publication year 2017
Published at Institute of Odontology, Section 3
Language en
Keywords BMI, Caries prevalence, Children, Dental caries, Dietary habits, Obesity, Plaque pH, Pregnancy, Sweet taste perception
Subject categories Dentistry


The aims of this thesis were to study the difference in sweet taste perception, dental caries and BMI between three different geographical areas (Italy, Mexico and Saudi Arabia) and to elucidate the relationship of sweet taste perception with caries and BMI. Dietary habits were also assessed in relation to sweet taste perception in Saudi Arabia. In addition, the differences in sweet taste perception and plaque acidogenicity between pregnant and non-pregnant Saudi Arabian women were assessed. Materials and methods: For papers I, II and III, 669 schoolchildren, 13-15 years-old (220 Italian, 224 Mexican and 225 Saudi Arabian) were included, while in Paper IV the study subjects were a total of 121 Saudi Arabian women (41 non-pregnant, 40 early pregnant and 40 late pregnant). Sweet taste perception was determined by evaluating the sweet taste threshold (TT) and sweet taste preference (TP). For caries registration, DMFS, DMFT and ICDAS indices were used. The BMI-for-age scale was used for anthropometric assessments of the schoolchildren in paper II. In paper III, Saudi schoolchildren were assessed on their dietary habits via an estimated three-day dietary record and questionnaire. Plaque acidogenicity was determined for Saudi Arabian women in paper IV using the strip method. Comparisons between sweet taste perception and the different variables were conducted using different parametric and non-parametric tests. Results: Differences were found when comparing the three countries in terms of sweet taste perception (TT and TP). When assessing differences between the countries regarding the dental caries variables, a significant difference was found for DMFS and initial caries, with the highest mean value found among the Saudi Arabian schoolchildren. Sweet taste perception (TT and TP) was found to be related to DMFS and manifest caries in the three countries (Italy, Mexico and Saudi Arabia). A statistically significant difference was found between the three countries in terms of BMI value. No correlation was found for sweet taste perception (TT and TP) and BMI. In Saudi Arabia, sweet taste perception was found to be related to different dietary habits. Sweet taste perception differed significantly between non-pregnant, early pregnant and late pregnant women. In addition, significant differences were reported for plaque acidogenicity, with a lower pH value in the pregnant group. In conclusion, the existing differences observed in schoolchildren between the countries in terms of sweet taste perception, dental caries and BMI are believed to be due to cultural and environmental factors. The sweet taste perception level was found to have an effect on dental health while no such relationship was found with BMI. In addition, findings also suggest a higher risk of developing dental caries among pregnant women. Thus, they should be addressed as high risk group.

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