Acceptability of different caries management methods for primary molars in a RCT

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More conservative techniques for managing dental caries including ‘partial’ and ‘no caries removal’ have been increasingly of interest.


To compare children's behaviour and pain perception, also technique acceptability (parents and dentists), when approximal dentinal lesions (ICDAS 3–5) in primary molars (3–8-year-olds) were managed with three treatment strategies; conventional restorations (CR), hall technique (HT), and non-restorative caries treatment (NRCT).


Secondary care-based, three-arm parallel-group, randomised controlled trial, with 169 participants treated by 12 dentists. Outcome measures: child's pain perception (Visual Analogue Scale of Faces); behaviour (Frankl scale); and parents' and dentists' treatment opinions (5-point Likert scales).


Children showed more negative behaviour in the CR group (37%) compared to NRCT (21%) and HT (13%) (P = 0.047, CI = 0.41 to 0.52). Pain intensity was rated ‘very low’ or ‘low’ in 88% NRCT, 81% HT, and 72% CR (P = 0.11, CI = 0.10 to 0.12). NRCT and HT were ‘very easy’ or ‘easy’ to perform for >77% of dentists, compared to 50% in CR group (P < 0.000). There were no statistically significant differences in parents' rating of their child's level of comfort (P = 0.46, CI = 0.45 to 0.48).


Dentists reported more negative behaviour in CR group. For all techniques, children's pain perception and dentist/parent acceptability were similar.

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