Asthma and caries: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Am J Epidemiol. 2011 Sep 15;174(6):631-41. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwr129. Epub 2011 Aug 9.


There is inconclusive evidence suggesting a possible association of asthma with increased risk of caries. The authors conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to synthesize the evidence on the relation between asthma and caries. They performed an Ovid Medline (US National Library of Medicine) database search of literature published from 1950 through May 2010 using the Medical Subject Headings "asthma" and "caries." Summary effect estimates were calculated with fixed- and random-effects models, and determinants of heterogeneity were studied in meta-regression analysis. The meta-analysis was based on 11 articles providing estimates of the effect of asthma on primary dentition and 14 articles on permanent dentition. Summary effect estimates for the relation between asthma and caries from the random-effects models were 2.73 (95% confidence interval: 1.61, 4.64) and 2.04 (95% confidence interval: 1.44, 2.89), respectively. Factors identified as determinants of heterogeneity were geographic region for primary dentition and publication year, sample size, asthma definition, and information on the use of asthma medication for permanent dentition. Evidence from this analysis suggests that asthma doubles the risk of caries in both primary and permanent dentition. Publication bias diagnostics and simulation suggested possible overestimation of the summary odds ratio for permanent dentition but not for primary dentition. Physicians and dentists should recommend preventive measures against caries for persons with asthma.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / complications*
  • Asthma / epidemiology
  • Dental Caries* / epidemiology
  • Dental Caries* / etiology
  • Dental Caries* / prevention & control
  • Dentition, Permanent
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology