Mutans Streptococci and Dental Caries: A New Statistical Modeling Approach

Academic Article


  • Survival analyses have been used to overcome some of the limitations encountered with other statistical analyses. Although extended Cox hazard modeling with time-dependent variables has been utilized in several medical studies, it has never been utilized in assessing the complex relationship between mutans streptococci (MS) acquisition (time-dependent covariate) and time to having dental caries (outcome). This study involved secondary analyses of data from a prospective study conducted at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Low socioeconomic status, African-American preschool children from Perry County, AL, USA (n = 95) had dental examinations at age 1 year and annually thereafter until age 6 years by three calibrated dentists. Salivary MS tests were done at ages 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, and 4 years. The patterns of and relationship between initial MS detection (time-dependent covariate) and dental caries experience occurrence were assessed, using extended Cox hazard modeling. The median time without MS acquisition (50% of the children not having positive MS test) was 2 years. Approximately 79% of the children had positive salivary MS tests by the age of 4 years. The median caries experience survival (50% of the children not having dental caries) was 4 years. During the follow-up period, 65 of the children (68.4%) had their initial primary caries experience. Results of the extended Cox hazard modeling showed a significant overall/global relationship between initial caries experience event at any given time during the follow-up period and having a positive salivary MS test at any time during the follow-up period (hazard ratio = 2.25, 95% CI 1.06-4.75). In conclusion, the extended Cox modeling was used for the first time and its results showed a significant global/overall relationship between MS acquisition and dental caries. Further research using causal mediation analysis with survival data is necessary, where the mediator "presence of MS" is treated as a time-dependent variable.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • Caries Research  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 22427871
  • Author List

  • Ghazal TS; Levy SM; Childers NK; Carter KD; Caplan DJ; Warren JJ; Cavanaugh JE; Kolker J
  • Start Page

  • 246
  • End Page

  • 252
  • Volume

  • 52
  • Issue

  • 3