19 Jan

Study suggests children from wealthy families more likely to have signs of tooth wear

A new study suggests that children from wealthy families are more likely to have symptoms of tooth wear.

Researchers found that children from affluent backgrounds are more prone to tooth wear. Data analysis involving 65 studies that evaluated dental health in over 60,000 children in 30 different countries revealed a connection between socio-economic status and tooth wear. Cases of dental erosion were more prevalent among children who attended private school and those from families that had higher incomes.

Khaled Ahmed, a dentistry and oral health researcher from Griffith University, Australia, explained that diet plays a crucial role, as children from more affluent backgrounds often have access to food and drinks that are proven to accelerate tooth wear, including fruit juices, shop-bought smoothies, fizzy drinks, energy drinks and acidic, sugar-free fizzy drinks.

Dietary habits may “predispose children of all socio-economic levels to erosive risk,” Mr Ahmed explained, but “those from a ‘high’ socio-economic area may be more frequently exposed than their counterparts due to increased access as a result of affluence in low and middle-income countries.”

The study also showed that signs of tooth wear are likely to develop later in life in poorer countries. Adults with higher education are also less likely to display symptoms of acid erosion than those with lower socio-economic status. The researchers claim that this is due to a poor diet and a higher risk of stress and underlying health issues, which can impact dental health, such as acid reflux.

The team also suggested that rates of tooth wear may be lower among wealthier adults due to better access to dental care. Adults in wealthier countries and regions are able to see a dentist more frequently, which means that early symptoms can be addressed and they also have better access to preventative and urgent dental care.