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Community Dent Health. 2013 Mar;30(1):58-64.

Associations between oral health and height in an indigenous Australian birth cohort.

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Australian Research Center for Population Oral Health, The University of Adelaide, South Australia 5005, Australia.



Evidence suggests that taller individuals have better health than their shorter counterparts. This study aimed to test the hypothesis that shorter participants in wave-3 of the Aboriginal Birth Cohort (ABC) study, a prospective longitudinal investigation of Indigenous Australian individuals born 1987-1990 at an Australian regional hospital, would have more caries and periodontal disease experience than their taller counterparts.


Data were collected through oral clinical examinations, anthropometric measures and self-report questionnaires. The outcome variables were participants' caries (mean DMFT) and periodontal disease experience (moderate or severe periodontal disease as defined by the Centre for Disease Control), with height as an explanatory variable. Antecedent anthropometric, socio-demographic, sugar consumption frequency, dental behaviour and substance use variables were used as possible confounders. Linear regression was used in the analysis of caries experience, while adjusted prevalence ratios were used for prevalence of moderate or severe periodontal disease.


Higher DMFT was found among participants in the shortest tertile (B=1.02, 95% CI=0.02-2.02) and those who consumed sweets every day or a few days a week (B=1.08, 95% CI=0.11-2.05), while lower DMFT was found among those owning a toothbrush (B=0.80, 95% CI=-0.22-1.82). Periodontal disease was positively associated with the shortest tertile (adjusted PR=1.39, 95% CI=0.96-1.82) and negatively associated with toothbrush ownership (adjusted PR=0.50, 95% CI=0.34-0.66).


The hypothesis that shorter participants in wave-3 of the ABC study would have higher levels of caries and periodontal disease was confirmed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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