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Summary.

Objectives.  To investigate whether there is an association between asthma and tooth erosion in a representative random sample of adolescents in the East Midlands.

Methods.  A random sample of 1753 12-year-old children was examined in all schools in Leicestershire and Rutland. 1308 children were re-examined 2 years later. Tooth erosion was assessed using the index employed in the Children's Dental Health in the UK Survey 1993. Asthma presence was recorded on a self-completed questionnaire at the time of the 12 years examination. Data on asthma prescribing over a one year period was obtained from the Prescription Pricing Authority.

Results.  Asthma was present in 16·8% of 12-year-olds. Tooth erosion was recorded in 59% of children with asthma and in 59·7% who were asthma free. There was no significant difference in erosion prevalence between asthmatics and asthma free in a cohort of children at age 12 or 14 years, and the incidence of erosion was 12·8% and 12·3%, respectively. 88% of drugs prescribed for treatment of asthma had a pH above the critical pH of 5·5.

Conclusion.  There was no association between asthma and tooth erosion. The majority of drugs prescribed for the treatment of asthma are not potentially erosive.