A new Australian study has been launched to assess whether childhood dental problems could lead to poorer health later in life.
The University of Queensland Children's Nutrition Research Centre (School of Medicine) and School of Dentistry is currently investigating whether young Australians may be modifying their diets to accommodate for undiagnosed dental problems.
"We are keen to find out if children with dental problems such as decay and teeth misalignment are choosing foods that are easier to chew, how this modified diet is affecting their body composition, and whether these dietary choices raise their risk of chronic disease," study leader Sarah Officer said on April 20.
"Easy-to-chew foods tend to be highly processed, while healthier choices, such as fresh fruit, grains, lean meat, and vegetables are much harder for children with dental problems to manage."
Ms Officer explained that if the study established the link between dental problems and poor diet and high body fat, health screening and prevention programs could be developed to protect those children at highest risk.
Queensland families may find dental health services more accessible through private health insurance, with some policies helping to cover the costs of an examination – including diagnostic oral examinations and consultations – as well as preventive measures such as the removal of plaque.