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Dental Emergencies Supporting Your Practice

Are obese children at risk of traumatic dental injuries?


Broken tooth dental symbol and toothache dentistry concept as a single cracked damaged molar on an isolated white background.

This summary is based on the article published in Dental Traumatology: Are overweight/obese children at risk of traumatic dental injuries? A meta-analysis of observational studies (August 2015)

Patrıcia Correa-Faria, Stefano Petti


  • Overweight/obese subjects are at higher risk to develop several chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, musculoskeletal disorders, and some forms of cancer 1.
  • Overweight/obesity may also affect oral health, as it is statistically associated with dental caries 2, periodontal disease 3, oral cancer 4, and, possibly, traumatic dental injuries (TDI) 5–7.
  • The association between overweight/obesity and TDI has been investigated through cross-sectional and cohort studies with controversial results, thus suggesting that the strength of evidence in support of the causal association between these conditions is essentially low 12.

Purpose of the Analysis

To investigate the association between overweight/obesity and TDI, with the highest possible levels of internal and external validities.

Key Findings

  • Causation can only be supposed when the association is statistically significant and when the disease is less frequent in unexposed individuals. These criteria refer to the so-called probabilistic definition of cause and the counterfactual condition 62, 63.
  • It is possible then to speculate that overweight/obesity could be a component cause of TDI, as their association resulted statistically significant and TDI was more prevalent among overweight/ obese subjects (28.6%) than among lean children (25.5%).
  • The causal association between overweight/obesity and TDI is corroborated by the causal association of obesity with bone fractures 64, 65.
  • Bone fractures in obese children are frequent because these subjects are prone to falling 64, 65. Indeed, excess weight in children is directly responsible for both imbalanced gait and instable posture 70–72. Such an instability is due to the displacement of the center of mass and to functional limitations of joints in obese subjects 73–75.
  • The risk of TDI among overweight/obese children is approximately 22% higher than among lean children and the causal association between these two conditions is plausible.


List of references (PDF)


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