Looking beyond the dental chair to boost kids’ oral health



The old ‘drill and fill’ approach to combatting poor dental health in children is no longer working.

These are the findings of a new Cochrane review published last month. This tested a range of global oral health promotion interventions to ascertain which ones are most likely to improve oral health outcomes for youngsters.

Research fellow at Dental Health Services Victoria (DHSV) and author of the review, Dr Shalika Hegde, said it is no longer enough to treat individuals solely in clinical settings and only focus on those at high risk for oral disease.

“By doing so, we are only treating the symptoms of the disease. To improve oral health, we need to focus on prevention, invest our scarce resources meaningfully and look beyond just clinical settings. Strong links between children’s settings and community-based dental services are required to ensure that children receive the treatment and preventive services needed, as early as possible”.

The review found that oral health promotion interventions that include supervised tooth brushing with fluoridated toothpaste are generally effective in reducing tooth decay in children’s baby teeth. It also found that interventions of oral health education provided in an educational setting, combined with professional preventive oral care in a dental clinic, are effective in reducing caries in children’s permanent teeth. In addition, improving access to fluoride in its various forms and reducing sugar consumption may also be beneficial according to the review, although evidence is limited.

DHSV CEO Dr Deborah Cole said evidence generated through the review has local and global implications for models of oral health care, oral health promotion, research, policy and practice.

“This study is the first of its kind focusing on community-based population-level oral health promoting interventions targeting children from birth to 18 years of age. DHSV has a strong focus on evidence-based practice through the Centre for Applied Oral Health Research which brings together a spectrum of high quality population level oral health research evidence.”

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  1. Fluoride is highly toxic and a cumulative poison, like lead, arsenic, and mercury. I have asked many forced-fluoridation fanatics to tell me how much accumulated fluoride in the body they think is safe. So far not a single one of them has been able to answer the question.

    It is unlikely to just be a coincidence that the US, Australia, and Ireland, which have had high rates of forced-fluoridation for decades, also have high rates of joint problems, and poor health outcomes in general.


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