Preventive management plans recorded by dental therapists and oral health therapists using clinical vignettes for adolescents accessing public oral health services in New South Wales, Australia

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Abstract

Background:

The aim of this study was to investigate factors that influence dental therapists and oral health therapists (therapists) plan preventive oral health care for adolescents attending New South Wales public oral health services.

Methods:

A cross-sectional postal survey using two clinical vignettes was used to record the preventive care treatment plans offered by therapists working across 15 New South Wales local health districts. Data were tabulated and chi-square statistics used in the analysis.

Results:

One hundred and seventeen therapists returned questionnaires, giving a 64.6% response rate. The participants highlighted the importance of offering oral hygiene instruction (97.0%), dietary advice (95.0%) and topical fluoride applications (74.0%). Recommended home use products included fluoride toothpaste 5000 ppmF (59.0%) and casein phosphopeptide-amorphous calcium phosphate plus fluoride (CPP-ACPF) paste (57.7%). Over 50% used fissure sealants. More respondents (88%) would utilize motivational interviewing strategies for a patient with dental caries concerns; however, only 63% would use this technique for a patient in pain (p < 0.001).

Conclusions:

Considerable variations were noted in therapists' recommendations for stabilizing and managing dental disease, suggesting a need for clinical directors to consider providing more advice to therapists on the scientific basis of preventing dental caries.

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