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An investigation into the dental health of children with obesity: an analysis of dental erosion and caries status



To investigate whether children with obesity experienced more erosion and caries than children with normal weight.


This study involved children aged 7–15 years. The study and control group comprised 32 children with BMI > 98th centile and 32 healthy children with normal BMI-for-age, respectively. O’Sullivan Erosion Index and WHO Caries Index were used in the examination of erosion and caries, respectively. Stimulated salivary flow rate, buffering capacity, Streptococcus mutans and lactobacilli counts (CFU/ml) were evaluated. A cross-sectional questionnaire survey was employed to collect information on participant’s demographic background, oral health history and habits, and utilisation of dental care services.


Children with obesity were more likely to have erosion than healthy children (p < 0.001), and had more erosion in terms of severity (p < 0.0001) and area affected (p < 0.0001), but not in the number of surfaces affected (p = 0.167). Posterior teeth were less likely than anterior teeth to be affected by erosion (OR 0.32, 95 % CI 0.012–0.082). Gender had no effect on erosion. There were no statistically significant differences in the DMFT, saliva profiles or questionnaire responses between the groups.


Children with obesity may have high risk of dental erosion, but do not necessarily have higher risk of dental caries than children with normal weight.

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The authors wish to acknowledge the help of nurses and clinicians at the Leeds General Infirmary Paediatric Obesity Outpatient Clinic and Orthopaedic Outpatient clinics, trainers at the Leeds PCT WATCH IT programme for their help in recruitment, and all the patients who participated in this study. The authors also wish to thank Drs S. Raval, F. Mandziuk and E. O’Sullivan for their help in the training and calibration for this study.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to H. J. Tong.

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Tong, H.J., Rudolf, M.C.J., Muyombwe, T. et al. An investigation into the dental health of children with obesity: an analysis of dental erosion and caries status. Eur Arch Paediatr Dent 15, 203–210 (2014).

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  • Body mass index
  • Obesity
  • Dental caries
  • Dental erosion