Increased Risk of Dental Cavities after Bariatric Surgery for Obesity

The main findings are that dental caries were more common in those with the highest BMI before treatment and that surgical obesity treatment can increase the frequency of dental caries Interview with:
Anna-Lena Östberg, DDS PhD Assoc Professor
Director of Research, Public Dental Service Västra Götaland
Dept of behavioral and community dentistry
Inst of Odontology
Sahlgrenska Academy
University of Gothenburg, Sweden

NEGIN TAGHAT and ANNA-LENA ÖSTBERG  What is the background for this study? 

Response: The original background for the studies was the global obesity epidemic and its consequences. The implications for general health have been the focus of much research, but the impact on oral health has been studied very little.

In recent years, observations of oral health problems after bariatric surgery have been reported from both patients and dentists. However, these have been episodic observations and therefore scientific studies are required. At the same time, a larger medical study was started to follow patients undergoing obesity treatment, medical or surgical, and we were able to include examinations of the mouth and teeth.   What are the main findings?

Response:  The main findings are that dental caries were more common in those with the highest BMI before treatment and that surgical obesity treatment can increase the frequency of dental caries. This can also affect the individual’s everyday life and result in a poorer oral health-related quality of life. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Causes behind the increase in dental caries might be roughly divided into two main lines: Behavioral and Biological.

Behavioral factors relate to the requirements for adaptations regarding, among other things, diet and meal frequency that the individual is faced with after bariatric surgery. The biological factors can be many, such as possible changes in the properties and content of body fluids as saliva, but knowledge is lacking here today. What can be done to mitigate the increased risk?

Response: Dental care and the individuals themselves should be made aware of the increased risks for poorer oral health after obesity treatment. Tailored preventive measures should be planned. It would also be an advantage if dental professionals could be part of the medical team right from the start when the patient’s treatment is planned. Is there anything else you would like to add? Any disclosures?

Response: In addition to the two-year surveys that have now been reported, follow-ups of the cohort are planned after a longer period of time. It should also be noted that the studies published so far are surveys of oral health in individuals undergoing obesity treatment, and further studies will include searching for causes of the problems.


On oral health before and after obesity treatment: Studies on clinical and patient-reported outcomes,

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Last Updated on November 8, 2023 by weightcontrol