Aim: Dental caries is a biofilm-dependent disease resulting
from the interaction between microorganisms, a susceptible
host, and a cariogenic diet. The risk of developing caries
lesions varies according to the individual characteristics and
socioeconomic and cultural factors. The aim of this study was
to evaluate the length of time of oral clearance of food from the
occlusal surfaces of molars in preschool children.
Materials and methods: Chocolate cookies or pieces of apple
were distributed to 188 children aged 3 to 6 years, and the
food retention was observed every 10 minutes for 1 hour. The
degree of retention was ranked by scores: (0) total elimination,
(1) partial retention, and (2) total retention.
Results: Children 3 to 4 years of age took 30 minutes to eliminate
the cookies from the surfaces of the teeth examined, while
the children who were 5 to 6 years of age took 20 minutes. The
lower molars needed more time to eliminate the cookies. All
children eliminated apple in <10 minutes.
Conclusion: The results suggest that in younger children, the
food may remain in the oral cavity for a significant period of time.
Clinical significance: As eating habits influence significantly
the development of caries lesions, and cariogenic food directly
changes the demineralization–remineralization process, the
results of this study show the importance of counseling the families
regarding the frequency, time, and type of food to be offered to
preschoolers as a preventive measure to early childhood caries.