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Sunday, August 2, 1998 Published at 08:46 GMT 09:46 UK


Blood disorder 'causes dental pain'

Dental pain may persist, even without signs of decay

Scientists say they have found that people who have a blood disorder can suffer from pain in the mouth and teeth, even when there is no sign of tooth decay or gum disease.

Sickle cell disorder (SCD) alters the shape of red blood cells, leading to anaemia and an increased risk of stroke.

The condition is a genetic trait which particularly affects Afro-Caribbeans.

The authors of the research, Dr Gill Hawley and Carol O'Rourke from the Department of Dental Public Health in Manchester, said they believed the phenomenon was caused by the effects on blood cells in the pulp, the soft tissue inside teeth.

Ms O'Rourke said that in Jamaica, people who suffered toothache often could not afford treatment.

"Our findings show that for those with Sickle Cell Disease, waiting for a while to see if the pain goes away may be sensible," said Ms Rourke.

"If the pain persists, however, people should always seek dental advice."

Jamaica study

A study of 102 patients in Jamaica found that almost half of the 51 people who had sickle cell disorder experienced jaw pain in the previous year.

In seven out of 10 of these cases there were no dental problems which could have caused the pain.

Almost 67% of sickle cell sufferers experienced toothache, and half of these had no dental disease.

Less than 57% of those without sickle cell disorder suffered toothache, and in all these cases the pain was due to dental problems such as decay.

The findings are published in the British Dental Journal.

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