Children in the London Boroughs of Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster have one of the highest levels of caries in England and Wales. In 1997/98, the mean dmft for 5-year-old children was 2.83 with only 45.9% of the children being caries free. The aim of this study was to determine whether teacher-supervised toothbrushing, once a day, at school, during term time, with commercial toothpaste containing 1,450 ppm fluoride, could reduce dental caries in primary school children when compared with children from the same community who did not receive this intervention. A total of 517 children (mean age 5.63 years) were recruited for the study. Class teachers were trained individually by the same dental hygienist in an appropriate toothbrushing technique for young children. Children in the intervention group brushed once a day at school. All examinations were by visual assessment only. All teeth present were assessed using the BASCD criteria. For children in the intervention group, the overall caries increment (2.60) was significantly less (10.9%; p < 0.001) than for children in the non-intervention group (2.92). Among different tooth surfaces, the difference in caries increment between the intervention group (0.78) and the non-intervention group (1.03) was greatest for the proximal surfaces (21.4%; p < 0.01). In conclusion, this study suggests that a programme of daily teacher-supervised toothbrushing with fluoride toothpaste can be effectively targeted into socially deprived communities and a significant reduction in dental caries can thereby be achieved especially among caries-susceptible children.
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