DENTAL NEWS: Tooth decay hampers Children’s growth

Research shows that Tooth decay may seriously impede a child’s healthy growth. Unfortunately, parents tend to take their child’s Dental caries lightly and ignore timely treatment of cavities.


Procrastination in this regard not only causes tooth damage or tooth loss, a new study shows that it will even hinder the kid’s growth and physical health.

A study conducted by researchers at King Fahad Armed Forces Hospital at Jeddah in Saudi Arabia and the University College in London UK was recently published in the Journal Pediatrics (online), suggests that “Tooth Decay may Prohibit growth in Children”

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The study noted that young children suffering from dental caries should be cautiously treated to overcome this severe Public-health challenge. The researchers aimed at exploring the causes and effects of poor oral health and physical growth of children. Earlier studies had failed to establish the connection between caries and growth. The current study has clearly shown the correlation between dental decay and the weight or height of children in Saudi Arabia.

According to media reports; “The study group comprised of school children aged between six to eight years. The children’s caries-status was evaluated with the DMFT (decayed, missing, filled, teeth) index for their primary teeth. Height and weight were evaluated by using Z scores of height-for-age (HAZ), weight-for-age (WAZ), and BMI-for-age (BAZ), calculated by World Health Organization (WHO) standardized procedures. (Z score measures the reliability of data). The relationships between dental caries and HAZ, WAZ, and BAZ were subjected to statistical analysis.

Included in the final evaluation were 417 of the 436 eligible schoolchildren with complete data, marking a response rate of 95.6%. Their average DMFT index was 5.7 ± 4.2. The investigators found an inverse linear relationship between caries-status and children’s HAZ, WAZ, and BAZ showing significantly lower anthropometric outcomes (growth) for children, at each consecutive group with higher levels of caries. (An inverse linear relationship means that the higher the caries status, the lower the Z scores were in a straight line relationship.)

Even when some secondary factors, like demographics and social values, were factored in, the correlation between decay and stunted growth still existed. The researchers concluded that the inverse linear association between dental caries and all anthropometric outcomes suggest that; higher levels of untreated dental caries are associated with poorer growth in children. More research is necessary to confirm this study’s findings.