Among the potential risk factors associated with nursing caries/baby bottle tooth decay--a subset of Early Childhood Caries (ECC)--is a "strong-tempered" behavioral style in the child. However, the few empirical studies that have investigated this description remain controversial. The research goal of this study was to operationalize the "strong-tempered" profile and investigate its association to parental feeding practices and ECC levels.
In an observational-correlational study design, 58 children (ASA I), ages 18 to 70 months (M = 43 months, SD = 17), were reliably assessed for ECC levels by a clinical evaluator. A second evaluator, blind to ECC status, interviewed parents using a demographic survey, a feeding practices measure, and the EAS Temperament Survey for Children.
Multiple regression analyses indicated that none of the four temperament factors (Emotionality, Activity, Sociability, and Shyness) significantly predicted duration of feeding habit defined as the length of time in months that the child breast or bottle fed, whichever lasted the longest. However, the combination of greater duration of feeding habit and higher levels of Shyness predicted all three measures of ECC: the presence or absence of caries (r2 = .19, P