Comparative epidemiology of multiple sclerosis and dental caries.
The geographical distribution and other epidemiological characteristics of multiple sclerosis (MS) are compared with those of dental caries. The rates of death due to MS in Australian states are linearly related to the numbers of decayed, missing, and filled (DMF) teeth found in individuals from those states (r=0.97, P less than 0.002). In the United States of America, a strong positive correlation (r=0.55, P less than 0.001) also exists between MS death rates and dental caries indices. The prevalence of MS in 45 countries or areas correlates well with the frequencies of DMF teeth among children of school age in those locations (r=0.78, P less than 0.001). The prevalence of MS also correlates well with the percentage of edentulous individuals in certain countries (r=0.99, P less than 0.001). A review of the literature shows that the risk for dental caries is lower among the following groups: the lower socioeconomic classes in the United States of America; Chinese immigrants to England compared with natives; blacks compared with whites; and males compared with females. The dental caries risk is higher during pregnancy and lactation. All these trends have been described for MS as well. It is suggested that dental caries may be a more accurate epidemiological model for MS than poliomyelitis. It is also suggested that MS and dental caries may share certain aetiological factors, two of which may be dietary excess of certain fats, and vitamin D deficiency.