Is there a relationship between asthma and dental erosion? A case control study


Dr L. Shaw, The University of Birmingham, Dental School, St Chads, Queensway, Birmingham B4 6NN, UK. Tel.: +44 121 237 2826, Fax: +44 121 625 8815, E-mail:


Summary. Objectives. The aims of this study were firstly to assess and compare the prevalence of dental erosion and dietary intake between three groups of children; children with asthma, those with significant tooth erosion but with no history of asthma, and children with no history of asthma or other medical problems. Secondly, to discover whether there was a relationship between medical history and dietary practises of these children and the levels of dental erosion. Thirdly, to measure and compare their salivary flow rates, pH and buffering capacity.

Methods. The study consisted of 3 groups of children aged 11–18 years attending Birmingham Dental Hospital: 20 children with asthma requiring long-term medication, 20 children referred with dental erosion, and 20 children in the age and sex matched control group. Tooth wear was recorded using a modification of the tooth wear index (TWI) of Smith and Knight. Data on the medical and dietary history were obtained from a self-reported questionnaire supplemented by a structured interview. The salivary samples were collected under standard methods for measurements.

Results. Fifty percent of the children in the control group had low erosion and 50% moderate erosion. However, high levels were recorded in 35% of children in the asthma group and 65% in the erosion group. There appeared to be no overall differences in diet between the groups. There was an association between dental erosion and the consumption of soft drinks, carbonated beverages and fresh fruits in all the three groups. More variables related to erosion were found in the erosion and asthma groups. A comparison between the three groups showed no significant differences in unstimulated and stimulated salivary flow rates, or pH and buffering capacity.

Conclusion. There were significant differences in the prevalence of erosion between the three groups, children with asthma having a higher prevalence than the control group. Although there was a relationship between the levels of erosion and some medical history and acidic dietary components, these did not explain the higher levels in asthmatic children. Further investigation is required into the factors affecting the increased prevalence of erosion in children with asthma.