Purpose: The aim of the present study was to investigate the possibility that malnutrition and overweight/obesity might act as factors associated with dental caries among 12-year-old children. Methods: This was a cross-sectional study that was carried out on 689 12-year-olds at public schools in the municipality of Caruaru, State of Pernambuco, Brazil, to determine the prevalence of dental caries and malnutrition. A case-control study nested within the cross-sectional study was carried out to determine the association between malnutrition and dental caries. To assess the nutritional status, weight for age, height for age and body mass index were determined. The occurrence of dental caries was determined using the decayed, missing and filled teeth (DMFT) index. Results: The prevalence of caries was 71.8%, with a mean DMFT index of 2.9. The prevalence of height deficit was 9.9%, and the prevalence of risk of overweight and overweight/obesity was 9.3% and 3.2%, respectively. No statistically significant association was found between these nutritional indices and the occurrence of dental caries. Conclusion: The results suggest that malnutrition did not act as a risk factor for dental caries in this population.
Keywords: adolescent, dental caries, nutritional status