MATERIALS AND METHODS: One hundred and twenty primary school children were included. They were divided into caries and caries-free groups. Unstimulated whole saliva was collected from each participant using spitting method. The salivary elements were measured using an Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer. Descriptive statistics, bivariate and Pearson's correlation analysis were performed.
RESULTS: Salivary Cu and Zn levels were significantly higher in children with dental caries compared to those caries-free (p < 0.05). Moreover, these elements had a positive correlation with dental caries (Cu: r=0.698, p<0.001; Zn: r=0.181, p<0.05). No significant variations in Mn and Fe were observed between caries and caries-free group (p>0.05). Additionally, there were significant differences in salivary Zn and Fe among different age groups (p<0.05) and highly significant differences in salivary Cu, Mn and Fe among different ethnic groups (p<0.001). However, all elements exhibited no significant differences between males and females.
CONCLUSION: The salivary Cu and Zn levels showed significant differences between caries and caries-free groups. The findings also revealed significant variations in the levels of salivary Cu, Mn and Fe among different ethnic groups and salivary Zn and Fe among different age groups.