BACKGROUND: Toothbrushing with fluoride toothpaste reduces the incidence of dental caries.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate a supervised school toothbrushing programme to reduce dental caries experience in children.
BASIC RESEARCH DESIGN: Quasi-experimental study. All children had routine dental examinations at baseline using the ICDAS to record dental caries, along with bitewing radiographs. Half of the children were involved in a supervised toothbrushing programme. Examinations were repeated at the end of the school year.
CLINICAL SETTING: Northland, New Zealand.
PARTICIPANTS: 335 10-13-year-old New Zealand children with high caries experience.
INTERVENTIONS: Half of the children participated in the supervised toothbrushing session each school day; the other half had no intervention.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Caries increment, determined by comparing the baseline and follow-up status of each tooth surface.
RESULTS: At baseline, there were 335 children, of whom 240 (71.6%) were followed up. The ICDAS net caries increment for those in the toothbrushing group was a mean of 11.7 surfaces improved; the control group had a mean of 8.6 surfaces which had deteriorated. Caries incidence for those in the toothbrushing group was 7.3%; that for the control group was 71.5%. Multivariate analysis showed that membership of the brushing group was the only statistically significant predictor of a lower net caries increment.
CONCLUSION: A supervised school toothbrushing programme can reduce caries increment in a population experiencing high levels of dental disease.