Early prevention best option in child tooth decay

A MAJOR three-year dental study of children has found no evidence to suggest that any one of three accepted treatment strategies was better than another in stopping pain and infection from ongoing decay in primary teeth.

Dentists involved in the study recruited over 1,140 UK children with visible tooth decay between the ages of three and seven. One of three treatment approaches was then chosen randomly: conventional fillings, sealing decay into teeth, and using prevention techniques alone, such as reducing sugar intake, twice-daily brushing, application of fluoride varnish and placing of fissure sealants on the first permanent molars. The children were then followed for up to three years.

No evidence was found to suggest that any one of the treatment strategies was better than another in terms of making a difference in children’s ongoing experience of pain or infection, quality of life or dental anxiety between groups.

Professor Nicola Innes, Chair of Paediatric Dentistry at the University of Dundee and lead author on the paper published in the Journal of Dental Research, said: "Our study shows that each way of treating decay worked to a similar level but that children who get tooth decay at a young age have a high chance of experiencing toothache and abscesses regardless of the way the dentist manages the decay.

"What is absolutely clear from our trial is that the best way to manage tooth decay is not by drilling it out or sealing it in - it’s by preventing it in the first place."