A new study has suggested that tooth decay may contribute to delayed growth in children.
The research, which has been published in the online version of Paediatrics journal, was carried out by researchers at University College London and the King Fahad Armed Forces Hospital in Saudi Arabia.
Researchers decided to study the relationship between oral health and growth after finding that previous studies presented conflicting evidence. In this study, the research teams analysed the relationship between dental decay and height and weight in a group of Saudi Arabian children aged between 6 and 8 years old who had significant signs of decay.
The children’s oral health status was evaluated according to the DMFT index, which represents decayed, missing and filled teeth and their height and weight were recorded according to scales used by the World Health Organisation.
Researchers then performed statistical evaluation and analysis of the figures and found that there was a correlation between low weight and height and high incidence of cavities. Those who had severe decay were more likely to be underweight and shorter than average.
The authors of the study also confirmed that there was a significant link between decay and growth, even when additional factors, such as demographic and social values, were taken into account.
The research teams concluded that this study suggests that there is an inverse relationship between growth and decay, with those showing signs of cavities more likely to experience stunted or delayed growth.