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J Calif Dent Assoc. 1999 Jul;27(7):539-44.

Cost-effectiveness model for prevention of early childhood caries.

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Department of Pediatric Dentistry, University of California at San Francisco 94143, USA.


This study presents and illustrates a model that determines the cost-effectiveness of three successively more complete levels of preventive intervention (minimal, intermediate, and comprehensive) in treating dental caries in disadvantaged children up to 6 years of age. Using existing data on the costs of early childhood caries (ECC), the authors estimated the probable cost-effectiveness of each of the three preventive intervention levels by comparing treatment costs to prevention costs as applied to a typical low-income California child for five years. They found that, in general, prevention becomes cost-saving if at least 59 percent of carious lesions receive restorative treatment. Assuming an average restoration cost of $112 per surface, the model predicts cost savings of $66 to $73 in preventing a one-surface, carious lesion. Thus, all three levels of preventive intervention should be relatively cost-effective. Comprehensive intervention would provide the greatest oral health benefit; however, because more children would receive reparative care, overall program costs would rise even as per-child treatment costs decline.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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