NYU Dentistry study identifies effective school-based cavity prevention program

April 16, 2018

School-based prevention programs can substantially reduce children's cavities - but what type of treatment should be delivered in schools to best prevent tooth decay?

A new study by researchers at NYU College of Dentistry, published in the journal BMC Oral Health, suggests that cavity prevention programs with a combination of prevention strategies may be more effective than one alone for reducing tooth decay.

Dental cavities are the world's most prevalent childhood disease, affecting nearly 30 percent of school-age children and 50 percent of rural, minority, or Medicaid-receiving children in the United States.

School-based cavity prevention programs have emerged as an important way to improve access to dental services. In medically underserved areas, these programs often serve as the sole source of dental care for children. While the American Dental Association supports the use of school-based cavity prevention programs, questions remain on the optimal mix of treatment services, intensity, and frequency of care.

"Given the high variability in school-based programs to prevent cavities, comparing the effectiveness of different prevention agents, frequency of care, or intensity of treatment can lead to optimal program design," said Ryan Richard Ruff, MPH, PhD, assistant professor of Epidemiology & Health Promotion at NYU Dentistry and the study's lead author.

In this study, NYU Dentistry researchers compared two cavity prevention programs in elementary schools serving more than 8,200 students over 10 years (2004-2014). Both programs provided school-based care twice a year to children ages 5 to 12.

One program provided sealants on molars (primary prevention) while the other provided sealants on all teeth and interim therapeutic restorations (primary and secondary prevention). Interim therapeutic restorations are a minimally-invasive method for controlling tooth decay by filling a cavity with a fluoride?releasing agent. Interim therapeutic restorations are intended to bridge the gap between identifying a cavity, particularly in a nontraditional setting or in a very young child, and having the cavity filled or crowned in a more permanent procedure.

Both school-based cavity prevention programs reduced the risk of untreated decay over time. While the total number of all decayed or filled teeth observed over the course of the study increased across both programs, the comprehensive program that provided primary and secondary prevention significantly lowered the rate of new and untreated cavities when compared to only sealants on molars.

"A comprehensive cavity prevention program, particularly for children without regular access to dental care, can be significantly better than the traditional molar sealant programs," said Richard Niederman, DMD, professor and chair of the Department Epidemiology & Health Promotion at NYU Dentistry and the study's coauthor.

Ruff and Niederman are continuing to study how to optimize school-based cavity prevention. They are currently leading two large studies - a PCORI-funded study in the Bronx and an NIH-funded study in New Hampshire - to compare two cavity prevention techniques in school-based dental programs. One technique is a more complex treatment similar to the combined primary and secondary prevention, but the Bronx and New Hampshire studies will also introduce the use of silver diamine fluoride, a non-invasive, cavity-fighting liquid that is painted onto teeth to halt the progression of tooth decay. The cavity prevention programs will begin in schools in the fall of 2018.
-end-
This research was supported the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (R03DE025289) and the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (U24MD006964).

About NYU College of Dentistry

Founded in 1865, New York University College of Dentistry (NYU Dentistry) is the third oldest and the largest dental school in the US, educating nearly 10 percent of all dentists. NYU Dentistry has a significant global reach with a highly diverse student body. Visit http://dental.nyu.edu for more.

New York University

Related Tooth Decay Articles from Brightsurf:

Stopping tooth decay before it starts -- without killing bacteria
Eating sugar or other carbohydrates after dental cleanings causes oral bacteria to quickly rebuild plaque and to produce acids that corrode tooth enamel, leading to cavities.

Studies shed new light on how biodiversity influences plant decay
Scientists have provided new insights on the relationship between plant diversity in forests and the diversity of organisms involved in their decay, such as bacteria and fungi.

Smile: Atomic imaging finds root of tooth decay
A collaboration between researchers from Cornell University, Northwestern University and University of Virginia combined complementary imaging techniques to explore the atomic structure of human enamel, exposing tiny chemical flaws in the fundamental building blocks of our teeth.

Materials scientists drill down to vulnerabilities involved in human tooth decay
Northwestern University researchers have cracked one of the secrets of tooth decay.

X-ray observations of Milky Way's halo rule out models of dark matter decay
An unidentified X-ray signature recently observed in nearby galaxies and galaxy clusters is not due to decay of dark matter, researchers report.

FSU researchers propose new physics to explain decay of subatomic particle
FSU researchers published new research that suggests reported decays of a Kaon by the Koto experiment may actually be new particles.

Chemical found in drinking water linked to tooth decay in children
Children with higher concentrations of a certain chemical in their blood are more likely to get cavities, according to a new study by West Virginia University School of Dentistry researchers.

Preventing, healing tooth decay with a bioactive peptide
Cavities, or dental caries, are the most widespread non-communicable disease globally, according to the World Health Organization.

Green in tooth and claw
Hard plant foods may have made up a larger part of early human ancestors' diet than currently presumed, according to a new experimental study of modern tooth enamel from Washington University in St.

Experts call for more active prevention of tooth decay for children's teeth
Three-year trial comparing three treatment strategies for tooth decay in children's teeth finds no evidence to suggest that conventional fillings are more successful than sealing decay into teeth, or using preventive methods alone.

Read More: Tooth Decay News and Tooth Decay Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.