School based intervention for improving the oral health of children in southern Thailand

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Objective: A two-year study assessed the benefit of an enhanced oral health promotion program combined with a closely supervised tooth brushing program in schools, using toothpaste containing 1,450 ppm F- and 1.5% arginine, on oral health and dental caries.

Methods: 15 southern Thailand schools and 3,706 pre-school children were recruited: 8 schools with 1,766 children as controls; 7 schools with 1,940 children in the intervention groups. Of the intervention schools five were classified as cooperative school and two as non-cooperative schools, based on the criteria of 80% participation in the prescribed tooth brushing activities.

Results: The DMFT and DMFS increments (?enamel and dentine?) were 1.19 and 1.91 for the control group and 1.04 and 1.59 for the intervention groups. These represent 12.6% and 16.8% reductions in caries respectively. The DMFT and DMFS increments (?dentine threshold?) were 0.26 and 0.44 for the control group and 0.19 and 0.29 for the intervention group, representing 26.9%, and 34.1% reductions in caries incidence respectively. For the more cooperative schools the benefits were greater: up to a 40.9% reduction in caries for DMFS (?dentine threshold?). At the 24 month examination there were significant improvements in dental plaque scores with greater improvements seen in the intervention group, greater still in the cooperative schools.

Conclusions: This study documents the positive effect from use of fluoridated toothpaste (1,450 ppm F and 1.5% arginine) administered by schoolteachers and undertaken via an enhanced school oral health program. Optimising oral health interventions for young children in Thai schools may have a significant impact on caries incidence resulting in reductions of up to 34% reductions in caries for all schools included in the study and up to 41% for the most cooperative.