Supplementary Material for: Italian Deprivation Index and Dental Caries in 12-Year-Old Children: A Multilevel Bayesian Analysis

Evidence from the literature has shown that people with a lower socioeconomic status enjoy less good health than people with a higher socioeconomic status. The Italian deprivation index (DI) was used with the aim to evaluate the association between the DMFT index and risk factors for dental caries, including city population and DI. The study included 4,305 12-year-old children living in 38 cities classified by demographic size as small, midsize and large. Zero-inflated negative binomial multilevel regression models were used to assess risk factors for DMFT and to address excess of zero DMFT and overdispersion through a Bayesian approach. The difference in the average level of DMFT among children living in cities with different DI quintile was not statistically significant (p = 0.578). The DI and ln(population), included as city-level fixed effects in the two-level variance components model, were not statistically significant. Consuming sweet drinks on average increased the mean DMFT of a susceptible child, while having a highly educated mother reduced it. Unobserved heterogeneity among cities was detected for the probability to be non-susceptible to caries (city-level variance = 0.26 with 95% credibility interval 0.09-0.57), while no territorial effect was found for the mean DMFT of the susceptible children. Our results suggest that the DI and city population did not play a role in explaining between-city variability. Interventions against social deprivation can be influential on the perception of oral health in Italian 12-year-old children to the extent that they can also affect individual level factors.