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'Oral health can be affected by both obesity and obesity treatment so that preventive measures can be planned.' Image Credit: Shutterstock

London: People who have had surgical obesity treatment have a higher risk of dental caries than before surgery, finds a study.

Led by researchers from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, the study shows weight loss surgery also leads to a general decline in oral health.

"Individuals who have undergone surgical obesity treatment may also experience a variety of oral symptoms and an impact on their oral quality of life," said Negin Taghat, doctoral student at the Institute of Odontology at the University of Gothenburg's Sahlgrenska Academy in Sweden.

"We saw that almost half of individuals experienced poorer oral health," Taghat added.

The team followed a group of 118 obese individuals. They found a pattern whereby higher body mass index (BMI) is associated with higher caries risk according to a rising scale. At the highest BMI values, there was a doubled risk of caries and less regular dental care.

Two years after either surgical or medical treatment, a clear division emerged between the groups.

Those who had undergone surgery had gone from an average of 15.0 caries lesions on the surface of the tooth enamel to 19.1. Within the group receiving medical treatment, however, enamel lesions had decreased.

Another example relates to deeper caries lesions in the dentine, with an average pretreatment initial value of 4.3 lesions.

Two years after treatment, individuals in the surgery group had an average of 6.4 such lesions while those in the medical treatment group had 4.9.

Symptoms can include hypersensitive teeth and difficulties with chewing. The situation as a whole can also cause social discomfort.

"Health professionals and dental professionals meet these patient groups in their everyday work. It is extremely important for staff to be aware that oral health can be affected by both obesity and obesity treatment so that preventive measures can be planned," Taghat said.