Adolescents aren’t known for oral hygiene. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, 59% of 12- to 19-year-olds in the United States have had dental caries in their permanent teeth, with 20% reporting untreated decay. That’s an average of 0.54 decayed or missing permanent teeth and 1.03 decayed permanent surfaces per kid.
But what about China, with 180 million people age 10 to 19, according to UNICEF? It’s a large population that demands attention, but little data about its oral health is available. So, researchers from Wuhan University in China investigated the prevalence of tooth wear and its relative indicators among adolescents in Wuhan City in August 2014.
The cross-sectional descriptive study examined 360 12-year-olds and 360 15-year-olds, split evenly among males and females. The researchers used a modified version of the Basic Erosive Wear Examination tooth wear index for the buccal, cervical, occlusal/incisal, and lingual surfaces of all the subjects’ teeth. The participants also completed a questionnaire about their current and historical dietary habits and oral hygiene.
The researchers found that 18.6% of the 12-year-olds and 89.4% of the 15-year-olds showed tooth wear, with 1.9% and 5.6% rates of dentin exposure, respectively. Factors associated with wear included drinking soft drinks and fruit juices immediately after sports, taking aspirin, reflux, unilateral chewing, brushing once a day or less, brushing less than 2 minutes, and swimming in the summer.
Noting the prevalence of wear, the researchers concluded that it increases with age and is associated with several socio-behavioral risk factors. They also say that it should receive greater attention. The study was written by Jing Zhang, Yangge Du, Zhao Wei, Baojun Tai, Han Jiang, and Minquan Du and published in BMC Oral Health.