In the past, caries has usually increased after cessation of water fluoridation. More recently an opposite trend could be observed: DMFT remaining stable or even decreasing further. The aim of the present study conducted in La Salud (Province of Habana) in March 1997 was to analyse the current caries trend under the special climatic and nutritional conditions of the subtropical sugar island Cuba, following the cessation, in 1990, of water fluoridation (0.8 ppm F). Diagnostic evaluations were carried out using the same methods as in 1973 and 1982. Boys and girls aged 6–13 years (N = 414), lifelong residents in La Salud, were examined. Between 1973 and 1982 the mean DMFT had decreased by 71.4%, the mean DMFS by 73.3% and the percentage of caries–free children had increased from 26.3 to 61.6%. In 1997, following the cessation of drinking water fluoridation, in contrast to an expected rise in caries prevalence, DMFT and DMFS values remained at a low level for the 6– to 9–year–olds and appeared to decrease for the 10/11–year–olds (from 1.1 to 0.8) and DMFS (from 1.5 to 1.2). In the 12/13–year–olds, there was a significant decrease (DMFT from 2.1 to 1.1; DMFS from 3.1 to 1.5), while the percentage of caries–free children of this age group had increased from 4.8 (1973) and 33.3 (1982) up to 55.2%. A possible explanation for this unexpected finding and for the good oral health status of the children in La Salud is the effect of the school mouthrinsing programme, which has involved fortnightly mouthrinses with 0.2% NaF solutions (i.e. 15 times/year) since 1990.
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