Effectiveness of an Oral Health Promotion Program for Medical Providers on Early Childhood Caries
A new study entitled Effectiveness on Early Childhood Caries of an Oral Health Promotion Program for Medical Providers by Dr. Patricia Braun et al. reports that an oral health promotion (OHP) program significantly reduced early childhood caries (ECC) in program participants. At Denver Health, a large safety net system serving 40% of Denver’s children, 89% of whom are disadvantaged, the effectiveness of an oral health promotion (OHP) intervention was measured at eight large, federally-qualified health centers. In 2009, Patricia Braun, MD, MPH, FAAP, began training medical professionals at four Denver health care centers using the Cavity Free at Three program. The program trains health professionals in caries risk assessment, oral examination, oral health instruction, fluoride varnish application, and dental referral. In 2011, the program was delivered to medical and dental providers at four additional health care centers within Denver Health.
After the four-year study, the researchers examined the number of teeth damaged by early childhood caries, better known as cavities or tooth decay, and the number of fluoride varnish applications (FVAs) the child had received at well-child visits with their medical provider. Children who received four or more applications before the age of three had significantly fewer decayed tooth surfaces. Children who received only one fluoride varnish application before the age of three experienced no difference in the number of decayed teeth compared to children who did not receive any FVAs. The average number of FVAs provided before the age of three increased from 0 in 2009 to 4.7 in 2015. Oral health behaviors also improved. Following the OHP intervention, more caregivers had taken their child to the dentist, weened their child off a bottle, reported their child drank tap water, and brushed their child’s teeth with fluoride toothpaste.
The Campaign for Dental Health applauds all efforts to prevent childhood dental disease before it starts, especially when those efforts engage families who are most affected.