Oral health education alone for kids is not enough
Researchers from the Cochrane Public Health Group recently published a review of 38 evidence-based studies on effective community-centred oral health promotion interventions for preventing tooth decay (caries), cavities and gum disease in children.
Researchers reviewed interventions in a number of childhood settings including school, community, healthcare and home environments.
The results of the review indicated that there was little evidence to show that oral health education alone made a difference in the level of caries in children.
Some study results did show that oral health education improved gum health, oral cleanliness and oral hygiene care behaviours. However, when oral health education was combined with other types of oral health promotion interventions, the impact on children’s oral health was far more positive.
A significant improvement in the reduction of caries in children’s baby teeth occurred when oral health education was combined with supervised tooth brushing using fluoridated toothpaste.
Caries in children’s permanent teeth were reduced when oral health education was combined with professional dental checkups and preventative care.
Other interventions that benefit children’s oral health (when combined with oral health education) include:
- provision of toothbrushes and toothpaste
- sugarless non-citric chewing gum
- motivational mentoring
- professional dental care
- application of fluoride varnish and fluoride supplements
- training of non-professional educators and caregivers
- improved child diet and restrictions on sugar intake
Essentially, the Cochrane Public Health Group’s review concluded that a range of interventions were necessary to ensure the optimal oral health of children – keeping them free from tooth decay and gum disease, as well as preventing the chronic oral conditions that could affect their future adult health.
“Community-based population-level interventions for promoting child oral health.”, Authors: de Silva AM, Hegde S, Akudo Nwagbara B, Calache H, Gussy MG, Nasser M, Morrice HR, Riggs E, Leong PM, Meyenn LK, Yousefi-Nooraie R. Published: 15 September 2016.