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J Dent Educ. 2007 Nov;71(11):1435-40.

Is there an association between weight and dental caries among pediatric patients in an urban dental school? A correlation study.

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The Robert Schattner Center, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


Obesity in the young is a public health priority. The prevalence of overweight children in the United States has risen almost threefold in the last two decades. An association between weight and oral health has been suggested in adults, whereas evidence supporting this association in children is controversial at best. The aim of our study was to evaluate the association between weight and dental caries in a random prospective cohort of children at their initial visit at an urban dental school. One hundred and thirty-five children were recruited in a four-month period. The DS/ds index was used to assess caries, and BMI percentile was calculated based on age and gender-adjusted published scales. Correlation analyses, linear, and multivariate regression including age, gender, and BMI were calculated with a significance threshold of p>0.05. No correlation between dental decay in obese and non-obese children was detected (p=0.99). These findings support recent U.S. population-based literature that reports an inverse association between caries and weight in certain pediatric groups. Nevertheless, the impact of interventions to address the epidemic in the dental setting has not been investigated. As part of a health care team, dental students should be exposed to the changing demographics and sequelae of overweight in children.

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