Caries experience of children in primary schools with long-term tooth brushing programs: A pilot Australian study

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Abstract

Objective:

The aim of this study was to evaluate a primary school-based tooth brushing (TB) program conducted in a low socio-economic area of Queensland, Australia, to determine its effectiveness in reducing caries.

Methods:

Records kept at the central dental clinic of the district were used to analyse the caries experience (decayed, missing, filled teeth [dmft/DMFT]) and caries prevalence in children from two schools with long-term TB programs (TB) (N=1191) and three Non-TB schools (N=553). The schools were matched by socio-economic indices.

Results:

Historical records showed that the baseline caries experience in all TB and Non-TB primary schools were similar at each primary school year. After a mean period of 5-9 years of the TB program, the caries experience (mean decayed, missing, filled teeth, dmft/DMFT) and prevalence were lower for TB group than Non-TB group. In the primary dentition, the overall mean dmft (±standard deviation) of TB group (2.53±3.00) was significantly lower than the Non-TB group (3.06±3.30) (P<.001). Similarly, in the permanent dentition, the overall mean DMFT of TB group (0.47±1.05) was reduced significantly compared to the Non-TB group (1.15±1.72) (P<.001). The overall caries prevalence in the TB group was 68% compared to 78% in Non-TB (P<.001). Overall, the mean annual DMFT increments of children in the TB schools were also significantly less compared with children in the Non-TB schools (P<.001).

Conclusion:

A long-term primary school TB program significantly reduced caries experience and caries prevalence in an optimally fluoridated (1-ppm), very low socio-economic district.

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