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Collaboration between healthcare professionals may help reduce caries

By Dental Tribune International
September 11, 2019

LIMA, Peru: In a recent study, researchers have developed an integrated intervention programme to reduce the prevalence and severity of early childhood caries (ECC) in infants. The programme was carried out by nurses and dentists who received training prior to the commencement of the clinical trial. The findings showed a substantial decrease in caries experience and called for a collaboration between oral healthcare professionals and personnel in clinics.

Owing to the high caries experience in 0- to 3-year-olds, the researchers implemented an age-specific programme that included activity record cards and information on patients’ oral health status at mother and child health clinics in Peru. The researchers trained the nurses on oral health issues and mouth inspection, and the dentists received training on how to treat infants and on atraumatic restorative treatment.

The study sample consisted of 368 children who were split into three groups. The active intervention group participated in the intervention programme, the passive intervention group received the oral health-related information and activity record cards, and the control groups received only a lecture. The findings showed that the children who participated in the oral health intervention programme had a dentine carious lesion prevalence of 10% three years after birth, compared with a 60.5% and 63.0% prevalence in the two control groups during the same period.

“The study demonstrated the success of working together with other health professionals at the health centres who engage with mothers and children early in life, like at the mother and child health clinic. These medical and educational professionals are excellent allies for disseminating the basic principles of preventing oral diseases and for referring infants with dental problems to the dentist. They need to be trained, which does not take long and is appreciated by nurses and dentists,” said Dr Rita Villena Sarmiento, Chair of the Department of Paediatric Dentistry at the University of San Martin de Porres in Lima. “Oral health should be integrated into general health right from the start of the infant’s life,” she continued.

The researchers are now planning to monitor the oral health of children up to 5 years of age. They will also publish a study on the impact of ECC on the quality of life of 3-year-olds. According to Sarmiento, the study will be the first one to investigate the prevalence of dental caries and quality of life in infants in the Latin American region.

The study, titled “Reducing carious lesions during the first 4 years of life: An interprofessional approach”, was published online on 27 August 2019 in JADA, ahead of inclusion in an issue.

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