Objective: The aim of the present study was to analyze existing scientific evidence on the longitudinal association between overweight/obesity and dental caries in children and adolescents and indicate possible gaps in the literature to guide future studies.
Study design: A systematic search of the literature was performed for the identification of longitudinal studies on this issue. The search strategy included words related to the outcome (dental caries), exposure (overweight/obesity), population (children and adolescents), and study design (longitudinal) of interest. Searches were performed in the PubMed, Web of Science, and Latin American and Caribbean Health Sciences Literature (LILACS) databases. The risk of bias in the studies was appraised using the tool for the critical analysis of cohort studies proposed by the Joanna Briggs Institute.
Results: Among the 400 studies retrieved from the databases, only seven met the inclusion criteria and were selected to compose the present review. Five of the studies had a low risk of bias, but all had methodological flaws. As the studies reported different findings, the association between obesity and dental caries continues to be undefined. Moreover, there is a lack of well-designed studies on this issue with standardized methods to enable comparisons.
Conclusion: Future studies should consider longitudinal designs, more precise diagnostic methods for obesity and dental caries, as well as the rigorous control of confounding factors and effect modifiers.
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