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There are no randomized controlled trials to assess the impact of treating dental caries on various aspects of children’s health. This study was conducted to assess the impact of dental treatment of severe dental caries on children’s weight, height and subjective health related outcomes, namely dental pain, satisfaction with teeth and smile, dental sepsis and child’s appetite.
The study was a community-based, randomized, controlled trial in schoolchildren aged 6-7 years with untreated dental caries. Participants were randomly assigned to early (test) or regular (control) dental treatment. The primary outcome was Weight-for-age Z-score. Secondary outcomes were Height-for-age and BMI-for-age Z-scores, dental pain, dental sepsis, satisfaction with teeth and child’s appetite.
86 children were randomly assigned to test (42 children) and control (44) groups. Mean duration of follow-up was 34.8 (±1.1) weeks. There were insignificant improvements in anthropometric outcomes between the groups after treatment of caries. However, treated children had significantly less pain experience (P=0.006) (OR 0.09, [0.01-0.51]) and higher satisfaction with teeth (P=0.001) (OR 9.91, [2.68-36.51]) compared to controls. Controls had significantly poorer appetites (P=0.01) (OR 2.9, [1.24-6.82]) compared to treated children. All treated children were free of clinical dental sepsis whereas 20% (9 of 44) of controls who were free of sepsis at baseline had sepsis at follow-up.
Although dental treatment did not significantly improve the anthropometric outcomes, it significantly improved the dental outcomes and children’s satisfaction with teeth, smile and appetite. This is the first study to provide evidence that treatment of severe dental caries can improve children’s appetite.
Effect of Dental Treatment on Children's Growth. Clinical Trial Gov ID# NCT01243866