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Br Dent J. 2009 Oct 10;207(7):E14; discussion 328-9. doi: 10.1038/sj.bdj.2009.899.

Efficacy of dental prophylaxis (rubber cup) for the prevention of caries and gingivitis: a systematic review of literature.

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Community Dental Health Services Research Unit, Department of Endodontics, Faculty of Dentistry, University of Toronto, Room #521A, 124 Edward Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5G 1G6, Canada.



The purpose of this systematic review was to assess the efficacy of routine dental prophylaxis applied before professionally applied topical fluoride (PATF) or at a regular recall visit in the prevention of caries or gingivitis.


Ovid MEDLINE and its allied versions; CINAHL; Cochrane Library; EMBASE; Health and Psychosocial Instruments; HealthSTAR; International Pharmaceutical Abstracts; and ACP Journal Club were searched for English and Human articles from 1966 to 2007 for original in vivo English publications assessing rubber cup dental prophylaxis. In vitro studies, case series, case reports or letters to editors (not containing primary data), editorials, review articles and commentaries were excluded but were read to identify any potential studies.


One hundred and eighty-nine articles were searched for relevancy resulting in six original studies that met our inclusion criteria. There was a unanimous agreement in four studies that a dental prophylaxis is not warranted before a PATF for caries prevention in children. A generalisation on dental prophylaxis before PATF cannot be applied to adolescents and adults. Available evidence (two other studies) fails to demonstrate any benefit in the prevention of gingivitis from further dental prophylaxis at interval used for recall examinations.


To prevent caries in children, dental prophylaxis need not be provided either at a recall visit or before PATF. Dental prophylaxis at intervals of four months or more is not justified for the prevention of gingivitis in the general population.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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