Association Between Dental Caries and Obesity among Children with Special Health Care Needs

Oral Health Prev Dent. 2021;19(1):101-106. doi: 10.3290/j.ohpd.b927717.


Purpose: Obesity and dental caries constitute an important public health problem worldwide. Special-needs children are at higher risk of developing dental caries and obesity because of their physical, neurological, or behavioural impairment or due to side effects of the medications they take. The present study was conducted to assess the association between dental caries and obesity among children with special health care needs in Taif City, Saudi Arabia.

Materials and methods: A descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted among 400 (220 girls and 180 boys) special-needs children. Body mass index (BMI) was determined by using height and weight measurements. Dental caries was recorded according to World Health Organization criteria. The association between caries and obesity was assessed using multivariable logistic regression analysis.

Results: 289 (72.3%) children presented with caries with mean dmft and DMFT of 3.9 ± 2.7 and 4.8 ± 2.3, respectively. Regression analysis showed specials needs children were at a greater risk of having dental caries: 1.69 times (CI: 0.18-2.62, p < 0.05) greater with obesity; 2.01 (CI: 0.18-3.09, p < 0.05) times greater with sugar consumption; 2.21 times (CI: 1.27-4.12, p < 0.001) greater with cerebral palsy; and 2.27 (CI: 1.29-5.12, p < 0.001) times greater with intellectual disability.

Conclusion: The present study showed a positive association between dental caries and obesity among children of special health care needs. Hence, a focused approach towards the common risk factors is essential to prevent both obesity and dental caries in special-needs children.

Keywords: dental caries; obesity; special needs.

MeSH terms

  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • DMF Index
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Dental Caries* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Saudi Arabia / epidemiology