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Overweight children may have more cavities in baby teeth

Cavities in primary teeth, or "baby" teeth, appear more in children who are overweight than in their normal weight or underweight peers, according to a recent study.

Studies in the 1990s concluded underweight children were at a greater risk for cavities in their baby teeth because of a failure to thrive, but researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo have found a more recent connection between poor nutrition that can lead to obesity and cavities.

Researchers studied the records of about 400 children ages 2 to 5 years who underwent aggressive dental treatment that required general anesthesia and compared them to nearly 80 children who were cavity-free. They found that children with cavities are not underweight in comparison to their peers and in fact their body mass index, a measure body fat based on height and weight, for age was significantly higher than average.

The next step, researchers say, is to see if improving diet improves children's dental health and helps them maintain a healthy body weight.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Dietary Guidelines encourage consumers to limit intake of beverages and foods high in added sugars that may crowd out other health foods from the daily diet. Health and nutrition experts recommend following the USDA's Food Guide Pyramid and the five major food groups:

  • breads, cereals, other grain products
  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, nuts
  • milk, cheese, yogurt

For more information about diet and dental health, visit the American Dental Association Web site at "".

Please contact the ADA if you have questions about this article.

©2010 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

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