Purpose: To explore caries predictors at age 1 year and caries development at ages 5 and 7 years in two groups of children following different fluoride-based preventive programs.
Methods: We conducted a prospective cluster-randomized controlled intervention trial with two parallel arms comparing two prevention programs: one program included fluoride varnish applications every 6 months, the other did not; otherwise, the programs were the same. Participants were 1- and 3-year-old children enrolled at 23 dental clinics in high-risk areas in Stockholm, Sweden. The baseline examination included structured interviews. Caries data were extracted from dental records. The primary outcome measures were ICDAS 1-6 > 0 at baseline (age 1 year) and defs > 0 at ages 2, 3, 5, and 7 years. The secondary outcome measure at age 7 was DFS > 0.
Results: Continuous caries development occurred: defs > 0 in 23% at 5 years and in 42% at 7 years. We found no difference in caries development between children who had or had not received fluoride varnish as toddlers. At age 1-year, significant predictors for dental caries in later preschool years were immigrant background, family income, and sweets consumption. Fluoride toothpaste > once a day at 1 year had an OR < 1 for defs > 0 at 5- and 7 years.
Conclusions: For toddlers, fluoride varnish does not seem to be an adequate prevention tool. Brushing with fluoride toothpaste from 1 year of age could not arrest caries development. Immigrant background was the strongest predictor. A new toolbox as well as collaborative upstream actions for reducing free-sugar intake are needed.
Keywords: Early childhood caries; ICDAS; Preschool children; Prevention; Progression; Topical fluoride.
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