Purpose: The purpose of this case-control study was to assess the association between ear infection and dental caries. Materials and Methods: The sample consisted of 126 children (range: two to five years) with no major medical problems or craniofacial anomalies. Ear infection history, demographic, dental, health and diet history of each child was determined using a questionnaire administered to the parent/guardian of the child. Dental charts were used to abstract dmft (decayed, missing and filled teeth) scores for children with dental caries (DC: dmft ≥ 1) and without caries (NDC: dmft = 0), and oral hygiene index (OHI) scores. Results: Chi-square analysis indicated no differences in ear infection history between the 71 DC and 55 NDC (past year: 35% vs. 40%; lifetime: 30% vs. 31%) children. However, there was a trend (p = 0.07) for the mean number of ear infections to be higher in DC versus the NDC group. Baby bottle use was highest among those who had both ear infection and caries. Multivariate regression model revealed that OHI scores, reason for dental visit, and frequency of visits were the best predictors of dmft scores. Conclusion: An association between dental caries and ear infection was not observed in this sample. Future investigations should explore common risk factors in increasing the risk of both diseases simultaneously.
Keywords: dental caries, ear infection, children