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Journal of Public Health Dentistry study finds association between man-made chemical, childhood caries

February 10, 2020

By Mary Beth Versaci

Circulating levels of perfluorodecanoic acid, a type of perfluoroalkyl acid, may be associated with dental caries in children, according to a study published in the fall 2019 issue of the Journal of Public Health Dentistry.

"Perfluoroalkyls/Polyfluoroalkyl Substances and Dental Caries Experience in Children, Ages 3–11 Years, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2013–2014" looked at the association between seven perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances and dental caries in 629 U.S. children ages 3 to 11 years, based on 2013-14 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data.

Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances are man-made chemicals that are used in water-resistant and soil-resistant items, such as carpeting, food contact paper, packaging and nonstick cookware, as well as electronics, surfactants, lubricants and paints. People can be exposed to these substances due to contamination of the environment and, at much lower levels, through ingestion, inhalation and skin contact.

Of the seven examined perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, only perfluorodecanoic acid was found to have a positive association with dental caries, according to the study.

The study also found other factors to be associated with caries development, including older age, lower income and Mexican-American ethnicity when compared with non-Hispanic white ethnicity. Brushing more than once a day, visiting a dentist in the past year and having more fluoride in water had a negative association with caries.