New research by pediatric dentists at the University at Buffalo has found that contrary to what is generally perceived, babies at risk of developing decayed milk teeth are either overweight or at risk of being overweight rather than underweight.
A study of children aged between 2 to 5 years found that a quarter of the children who required extensive dental treatment under general anesthesia at UB's at the Women and Children's Hospital of Buffalo, were either over the weight recommended for their ages or were pretty close to it. The findings of this study were released at the International Association of Dental Research meeting held March 9-12 in Orlando. "Prior studies in the 1990s found that children with rampant tooth decay appeared to be underweight, and this was attributed to a failure to thrive," said Hiran Perinpanayagam, D.D.S., Ph.D., an endodontist and assistant professor in UB's School of Dental Medicine and lead author on the study. "In contrast, a more recent study found that the children with tooth decay did not have reduced bodyweight. Given these conflicting results, we thought a more definitive study was needed." The researchers reviewed 407 records of children treated for cavities in their clinics. Among them 170 were from 2000 and 237 were from 2005. This figure also included 79 children seen in May 2005 who were cavity free. It was found that only 8.2 percent children in 2000 and 7.2 percent children in 2005 were underweight. 16.5 percent were at risk of being overweight, while 10.6 percent were overweight in 2000. 10.5 percent of the children were nearing being overweight, while 15.6 percent were already overweight in 2005. "Our study has confirmed that the children with dental decay are not underweight in comparison to their peers," said Perinpanayagam. "The significance of these findings is that there may be a connection between a poor diet that causes tooth decay and one that leads to childhood overweight and obesity. Our next step will be to see if those children that improve their diet to stop a recurrence of cavities also are able to maintain healthy bodyweight."
Sandra McDougal, D.D.S., pediatric dental resident, Margaret A. Certo, D.D.S., assistant professor, Joanne T. Tran, dental student, and Joseph E. Bernat, D.D.S., Ph.D., department chair and associate dean of the UB dental school were the other contributors to the study.
Contact: Lois Baker
University at Buffalo