Purpose: The effect of systemic zinc deficiency on the oral health of children remains unclear. The purpose of this study was to compare the dental caries prevalence and gingival health status of zinc-deficient children with healthy subjects.
Methods: Sixty children (30 zinc-deficient, 30 zinc-sufficient), whose serum zinc levels were quantified by spectrophotometry, were recruited to participate in the study. A serum zinc level of 70 μg/dL or below was determined as a cutoff value for zinc deficiency. Oral examination was performed by a single experienced dentist. Decayed, missing, or filled primary (dmft) and permanent teeth (DMFT), gingival (GI), and plaque index (PI) scores of zinc-deficient (case group) and zinc-sufficient children (control group) were assessed. Data were analyzed by using Kolmogorov-Smirnov and Mann-Whitney U tests.
Results: The mean dmft, DMFT, GI, and PI scores of the case and control groups were 4.03 vs 2.33 (p=0.010), 1.87 vs 1.03 (P<.07), 2.40 vs 1.33 (P=.00), and 1.63 vs 0.43 (P=.00), respectively. Although DMTF indices were higher in zinc-deficient children, the difference was not statistically significant.
Conclusion: Children with systemic zinc deficiency have a higher caries prevalence and poorer gingival health compared to their zinc-sufficient counterparts.