European Archives of Paediatric Dentistry

, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 197–202 | Cite as

Dental health of young children prenatally exposed to buprenorphine. A concern of child neglect?

  • K. KivistöEmail author
  • H. Alapulli
  • S. Tupola
  • S. Alaluusua
  • S. Kivitie-Kallio
Original Scientific Article



To study the oral health and dental neglect of prenatally buprenorphine-exposed 3-year-old children.


The study consisted of 51 children who as newborns tested positive for buprenorphine in a urine screen. The control group comprised 68 children previously unexposed to narcotics. The dentist examined the children and interviewed their guardians.


Buprenorphine-exposed children exhibited significantly more early childhood caries than did the control group. Caries indices, the number of decayed, missing and filled teeth or tooth surfaces and decayed teeth were greater in the buprenorphine-exposed children than the control children (p = 0.004, p = 0.004, p = 0.001, respectively). In the buprenorphine group, more children showed visible plaque (p = 0.003) and fewer children were caries-free (p = 0.009) than in the control group. The control children’s teeth were also brushed more often than the buprenorphine-exposed children’s teeth (p = 0.001) and the parents were more involved in their children’s tooth brushing than were those in the buprenorphine-exposed group (p = 0.035).


More caries and dental neglect were found in buprenorphine-exposed children than in controls. These findings highlight the importance of routine dental appointments, caries screening and preventive care for children in substance-abusing families.


Dental caries Early childhood caries Drug abuse Prenatal exposure Buprenorphine Dental neglect 



Kaisa Kivistö has received funding from the Foundation for Paediatric Research. Other authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© European Academy of Paediatric Dentistry 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. Kivistö
    • 1
    Email author
  • H. Alapulli
    • 2
  • S. Tupola
    • 1
  • S. Alaluusua
    • 2
    • 3
  • S. Kivitie-Kallio
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Social Pediatrics, Hospital for Children and AdolescentsHelsinki University Central Hospital, University of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.Department of Oral and Maxillofacial DiseasesHelsinki University Central Hospital, University of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  3. 3.Department of Pediatric and Preventive Dentistry, Institute of DentistryUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

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