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Childhood Obesity and Accelerated Timing of Dental Development: A Critical Review

Christina L. Nicholas, Ghadeer Thalji, Andrew Richter


The goal of this critical review is to synthesize the burgeoning body of literature on childhood obesity/body mass index (BMI) and dental development. The overwhelming majority of currently published work on BMI/obesity and dental development has found a correlation whereby children with higher BMIs have accelerated dental development. As these differences are frequently measured to be 0.5 years or greater in relative timing of dental development, this pattern is arguably significant both to forensic odontology and clinical dentistry. Available data suggest a trend whereby children with the highest BMIs have the greatest degree of precocious dental eruption, with some studies showing obese children being over a year more dentally advanced. There is no clearly established biological mechanism demonstrated to be the causative factor for early dental development in high-BMI children, though some potential areas for investigation are discussed. There is need for more research addressing potential causative mechanisms for early dental development as well as research in the area of potential implication of early dental eruption for forensic odontology and clinical dentistry.

KEYWORDS: forensic anthropology, body mass index (BMI), forensic odontology

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