Sucking habits and anterior open bite among Venezuelan and Brazilian children
Culturally different population groups have distinct infant feeding practices, which presumably may be related to diverse occlusal features in the primary dentition. Aim: To investigate the associations between nutritive and non-nutritive sucking habits and the prevalence of anterior open bite, in children from Aragua-Venezuela and São Paulo-Brazil. Methods: Seven calibrated examiners (κ = 0.89-1.0) performed clinical assessments in Venezuelans (N = 809) and Brazilians (N = 1,377) aged 3-6 years. Sucking habits were investigated using questionnaires answered by the mothers. Data were analyzed using logistic regression models (α = 0.05). Results: Among 380 children with anterior open bite, 309 were Brazilians. Approximately 65% of Brazilians with pacifier-sucking habit lasting beyond 3 years of age had this malocclusion. Brazilians who prolonged pacifier and digit-sucking habits beyond 3 years of age have, respectively, 68.5 and 14.5 times more chances of presenting anterior open bite than children without sucking habits (p < 0.001). In Venezuelans with open bite, 37.7% had digit-sucking habits beyond 3 years of age, resulting in a high odds ratio (9.3; p < 0.001) when compared to children without this habit. No significant effect was found for bottle feeding. However, non-breastfed Venezuelan children or those breastfed for periods shorter than 6 months have a two-fold higher chance of presenting anterior open bite than children who were breastfed for longer periods, p = 0.008. Conclusions: Infant feeding had some effect on Venezuelan children, since insufficient breastfeeding was related to a higher prevalence of anterior open bite. Pacifier-sucking was more prevalent in Brazilians, corresponding to pronounced chances (8-68 times greater) of diagnosing anterior open bite in pacifier users compared to non-users. Among Venezuelans, on the other hand, digit-sucking effect surpassed that of pacifier use and was associated with far higher chances (6-9 times) for this malocclusion.
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