Is Asthma a Risk Factor for Dental Caries? Findings from a Cohort Study
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It has been suggested that asthmatic children may have a higher caries risk, both as a result of their medical condition and the physical and physiological effects of their pharmacotherapy. By examining the association over time between asthma and caries increment, this study tested the hypothesis that childhood asthma is associated with an increased caries increment. In a long-standing New Zealand cohort study, participants' long-term asthma histories and the 3-year net caries increment between the ages of 15 and 18 years were examined. Of the 781 who were examined at 15 and 18 years, 39 participants were consistently taking anti-asthma medication at the ages of 9, 11, 13 and 15 years (and were labelled in this study as 'medication-determined asthmatics'), 56 were identified as consistent wheezers at the ages of 9, 11, 13 and 15 years ('wheeze-determined asthmatics') and 36 were members of both groups. A smaller group (n = 9) was identified as being very-long-term asthmatics (asthma at 5 years of age and at the ages of 9, 11, 13 and 15 years). Some 206 study members were identified as having no history of asthma, asthma medication or significant wheeze at any time up to and including 18 years. The overall mean net caries increment between the ages of 15 and 18 years was 2.06 surfaces (SD, 3.76). There were no significant differences in caries increment between the 206 asthma-free participants and any of the asthma groups. This study provides little evidence for an asthma-caries causative relationship.
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