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Community Dent Health. 2005 Jun;22(2):118-22.

A staged intervention dental health promotion programme to reduce early childhood caries.

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Central Manchester Primary Care Trust, Manchester, UK.



This paper reports the results of a community trial to assess the effects of a multi-stage dental health promotion programme in reducing Early Childhood Caries (ECC).


Two health districts (Primary Care Groups) were matched for dental disease levels and socio-demographic factors. One was randomly allocated to be the test Primary Care Group (PCG), the other the control PCG. Children in the test PCG received a series of interventions to support positive dental health behaviour from the age of 8 to 32 months. Interviews were conducted with parents of children aged 21 months and clinical examinations were undertaken on a larger cohort of children aged 3-4 years in test and control PCGs.


The interventions were gift bags containing a trainer cup, toothpaste containing 1,450 ppm F and toothbrush, and advice given to the children's parents on attendance at designated clinics and medical practices and further paste and brushes posted to the children's homes. Parents were interviewed on the telephone. Examinations took place at Children's Centres and nursery departments attached to primary schools.


Severity and prevalence of ECC and general caries and proportion of parents reporting adopting dentally healthy behaviours.


In the test PCG the prevalence of ECC in children who had received the interventions was 16.6% compared with 23.5% of children in the control area, a reduction of 29% (p=0.003). The mean dmft (1.17) and prevalence of general caries experience (28.7%) in the test children were also significantly lower than for children in the control PCG (1.72: 39.2%) (p=0.001). Analysis from a community perspective, which included data from all children examined in both areas, showed the prevalence of ECC in the test and control PCGs was 21.3% and 22.8% respectively and the mean dmft 1.47 and 1.72. The proportion with general caries experience remained statistically significant in favour of the test area 33.8% vs 39.9% (p=0.01). Parents in the test PCG were more likely to report cessation of bottle use (33% vs 18%), use of sugar-free drinks (49% vs 24%), commencement of brushing before first birthday (45% vs 27%) and twice daily brushing (52% vs 34%).


The parents who received this multi-stage intervention were more likely to report adoption of three positive oral health behaviours; using a trainer cup from one year of age, using safe drinks and brushing twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste. The programme failed to reduce the prevalence of ECC in the community but the prevalence of ECC and general caries experience among the children who participated was less than among children in the control PCG.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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