A phone call a day keeps decay away

Is that the phone ringing?

Just a few educational telephone calls or home visits may help to prevent early childhood tooth decay, a study finds. The study appears in the January 18 issue of the International Journal of Paediatric Dentistry. Australian researchers did the study. It included 286 children and lasted two years.

Children were recruited from community centres that provide services to lower income groups. Early childhood tooth decay is more common among children from lower income families. Children entered the study as newborns.

The families that received education about early childhood tooth decay were divided into two groups. One group received three home visits—one every six months. Another group received three phone calls—one every six months. Parents were instructed how to brush their children’s teeth and how to use toothpaste that contains fluoride.

A third group did not receive visits or calls. This was the reference group.

After the study ended, researchers examined each child’s teeth. They also took bacteria samples from the children’s mouths.

Only 1.5 per cent of children in the home-visit group had tooth decay, compared with 6.8 per cent of children in the phone-call group. In the reference group, 22.5 per cent had tooth decay.

The researchers found that 28 per cent of children in the home-visit group had the bacteria that cause tooth decay. In the phone-call group, 47 per cent of children had these bacteria. In the reference group, 35 per cent of children had them.

The researchers said that both the phone contacts and the home visits were very effective at reducing tooth decay over the first two years of a child’s life. Home visits were more effective than phone contacts.


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  1. Surely more children with bacteria, 47% of phone-call group, should be expected to produce more with tooth decay. These statistics show 12% more with bacteria producing 15.7% fewer with decay. As Pauline says “Please Explain” ??


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