£1 million study on child tooth decay

A study aims to find the best way to prevent child tooth decay.

The £1.1 million study will be conducted in some of South Wales’ most deprived communities.
Experts from Cardiff University, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board’s Community Dental Service and Swansea University have been awarded the money by the National Institute for Health Research to compare the effectiveness of two methods of preventing dental decay.

Despite an overall decline in dental decay across the UK, 57% of 15 year-olds still currently require a filling or extraction. 
The study will compare two methods of decay prevention currently widely used by the NHS – pit and fissure sealants and fluoride varnish.
Both treatments have been shown to be effective yet, there is little evidence to show which works best, which is most acceptable to children and offers the best value for money.

Professor Ivor Chestnutt, consultant in dental public health from Cardiff University’s School of Dentistry, is leading the study.

He says: ‘Although both of these treatments have been around for many years and have been shown to work, to know which works best and is most acceptable from the perspective of the children, their parents, the dental staff carrying out the treatments, and the schools in which the treatment will be delivered will be of tremendous value to the National Health Service. 

‘We are delighted to have the opportunity to carry out this study, the results of which will be of relevance to improving oral health, not just locally, but nationally and internationally.’

The study will be undertaken by the community dental service in Cardiff and Vale University Health Board. 

The three-year study, which starts in early 2011, aims to recruit more than 2,800 primary school pupils from schools across South Wales.

The children will be followed up for three years to investigate the comparable effectiveness of the two treatments with results expected to be published in early 2015.

This latest research complements a  similar study being carried out by
the Oral Health Unit (OHU) based at the University of Manchester.

Last year, the team there won significant funding to run a study which also focuses on prevention.

In this case, the £1.7 million study is investigating whether a prevention package, delivered by dentists in practice, can prevent tooth decay in children.

The trial outcomes will also shape the development of NHS dental services and interventions in the UK.

The three-year multi-collaborative trial is taking place in Northern Ireland and is investigating if it is possible to keep a larger proportion of children free of decay by using a fluoride varnish and toothpaste.

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