A growing body of epidemiologic evidence links oral health, obesity, and cardiovascular health, though few studies have reported on these relationships in children. While underlying mechanisms are unclear, adult studies have suggested sub-acute systemic inflammation, also implicated in the etiology of both obesity and cardiovascular disease. This study investigated associations between self-reported dental hygiene, obesity, and systemic inflammation in children.
128 children < 19 years of age from rural counties in West Virginia participated in a community-based health screening that included anthropometric assessments, blood collection, and a questionnaire about dental hygiene and self-assessed oral health.
Participants ranged from 3.0-18.7 years. Univariate analysis demonstrated an association between parent-reported dental hygiene, including frequency of preventive dental care and parent-assessed overall dental health, and markers of systemic inflammation but not obesity. In multivariable regression, parent-assessed overall dental health and obesity were independent predictors of systemic inflammation, after adjustment for age, gender, and parent education.
This is the first known study of the association between dental hygiene, obesity, and systemic inflammation in children. These results highlight the importance of preventive dental care in overall, systemic health in children and are consistent with previous reports in adults.