Background. The authors describe and evaluate the short-term effectiveness of a community-based program for dental caries prevention in children. Methods. The authors enrolled pupils in the ForsythKids program after receiving informed consent. They targeted children at six Massachusetts elementary schools, grades 1 through 3, with pupil populations at high risk of developing caries. The children underwent examination by dentists using calibrated technique and received comprehensive preventive care from dental hygienists. The authors determined effectiveness by means of comparing results of the initial examination with those of a second examination performed six months later. Results. At baseline, 70 percent of the 1,196 participating children had decayed or filled teeth. More troublingly, 42.1 percent of the primary teeth and 31.1 percent of the permanent teeth had untreated decay. Six months after preventive intervention, the proportion of teeth with new decay was reduced 52 percent in primary teeth and 39 percent in permanent teeth. Furthermore, the percentage of children with newly decayed or restored primary and permanent teeth was reduced by 25.4 percent and 53.2 percent, respectively. Conclusions. These results indicate that this care model relatively quickly can overcome multiple barriers to care and improve children's oral health. Clinical Implications. If widely implemented, comprehensive caries prevention programs such as ForsythKids could accomplish national health goals and reduce the need for new care providers and clinics.
- Caries prevention
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