Dietary habits and, in particular, the intake frequency of sucrose are of major importance for the development of dental caries. The perception of sweet taste is believed to have an influence on sucrose intake and therefore affects the predisposition to dental caries. The aim was to study the caries experience and sweet taste perception and to further analyze the possible relationship between the 2 tested variables in 13- to 15-year-old children from 3 different geographical areas. A cross-sectional survey comprising 669 children (220 Italian, 224 Mexican, and 225 Saudi Arabian) was conducted. The children were examined in their school setting. A sweet taste perception level was determined by the sweet taste threshold (TT) and sweet taste preference (TP). The sweet test was performed with sucrose solutions varying in concentration from 1.63 to 821.52 g/L. The International Caries Detection and Assessment System (ICDAS) and DMFS indices were used to diagnose caries. The highest mean value for TT was found for Italian children followed by Saudi and Mexican. Saudi schoolchildren showed the highest mean values for TP and DMFS, followed by Italian and Mexican. A statistically significant difference for TP, TT, DMFS, and initial caries was found between the 3 countries. A weak yet positive correlation was found between taste perception (TT and TP) versus DMFS and manifest caries in all 3 countries (r = 0.137-0.313). The findings of the present study showed a variation in sweet taste perception between the 3 countries, which may influence the caries outcome of the children in the individual countries.

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