Background: Morbid obesity is a scourge of the 21st century. The effective therapeutic measure is bariatric surgery. The medical literature has inadequately reported the potential deleterious effects of such surgery on dental health. Acidic levels in the oral cavity, which are known to be one of the postoperative side-effects of bariatric surgery, directly result in dental caries and tooth erosion. We investigated the self-assessment of postoperative bariatric patients with regard to their dental health and associated variables.
Methods: 113 patients (25% compliance), who had been operated on in three Jerusalem hospitals, responded to a mailed questionnaire.
Results: Patients' average age was 40+/-10 years; bariatric surgery had been performed 5+/-4 years previously. Of the patients, 37% reported eating more sweet foods after surgery, only 20% reported improved oral hygiene, only 34% reported increased frequency of visits to the dentist, and 37% reported greater dental hypersensitivity after surgery. Significant associations were found between reported dental hypersensitivity and vomiting (P=0.013), and also dental hypersensitivity and indigestion (P=0.021). Patients from the three hospitals reported different patterns of visits to the dentist. The most common variable (80% of the subjects) associated with visits to the dentist after surgery was dental hypersensitivity.
Conclusion: Medical teams need to consider potential dental problems after bariatric surgery, and to supply their patients with the appropriate information and instructions regarding oral hygiene maintenance, healthy dietary patterns and regular dental health monitoring by a dentist or dental hygienist.