Several studies have reported the harmful effects of lead poisoning. However, the relationship between lead exposure and oral health of children has not been well defined. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between blood lead level (BLL) and oral health status of children.
A total of 351 children (aged 7–15 years) were recruited from the pilot data of the Korean Environmental Health Survey in Children and Adolescents, which was designed to examine environmental exposure and children’s health status in South Korea. Blood samples were taken to determine BLLs and oral examinations were performed to assess oral health parameters, including community periodontal index (CPI), gingival index (GI), and plaque index (PI). Information regarding socioeconomic status, oral hygiene behavior, and dietary habits was collected from parents and guardians.
The participants were divided equally into four quartiles, with quartile I comprised of children with the lowest BLLs. There were significant differences for PI (p < 0.05) among the quartile groups. Using logistic regression models, we found a significant relationship between BLL and oral health parameters. The crude odds ratios for CPI, GI, and PI in the third quartile were 5.24 (95% CI: 1.48-18.56), 4.35 (95% CI: 1.36-13.9), and 4.17 (95% CI: 1.50-11.54), respectively, while the age and gender-adjusted odds ratios were 7.66 (95% CI: 1.84-31.91), 6.80 (95% CI: 1.80-25.68), and 3.41 (95% CI: 1.12-10.40), respectively. After adjustments for age, gender, parent education level, and frequency of tooth brushing, the adjusted odds ratios were 7.21 (95% CI: 1.72-30.19), 6.13 (95% CI: 1.62-23.19), and 3.37 (95% CI: 1.10-10.34), respectively.
A high BLL might be associated with oral health problems in children, including plaque deposition and gingival diseases.