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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