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Study finds caries interventions effective for Australian aboriginal children

September 10, 2018

By Michelle Manchir

A multifaceted intervention that included dental care for mothers during pregnancy, application of fluoride varnish to their children and anticipatory guidance in combination with motivational interviewing was seen to reduce prevalence of caries in Aboriginal Australian communities, according to a paper published online in July in EClinicalMedicine.

For the randomized controlled trial, researchers recruited 448 women pregnant with an Aboriginal child from health service providers across South Australia, resulting in 223 children in the treatment group and 225 in a control group.

Women in the intervention group received dental care during pregnancy and their children had fluoride varnish applied to their teeth at ages 6, 12 and 18 months. In conjunction, the women received anticipatory guidance and motivational interviewing.

Examining the children at 2 years of age, while no child in either group had missing or filled teeth, researchers found fewer decayed teeth on average in the intervention group (.62) than in the control group (.89).

"Our findings suggest that a highly structured, standardized, carefully implemented and culturally-sensitive multi-faceted early childhood caries intervention was effective in reducing carious lesions in this Aboriginal child population in an epidemiological sense, but the translation to dental public health settings (where there is usually not the same resources available or rigor applied) may not yield such results," the authors wrote, adding that "further consultation with Aboriginal communities is essential for understanding how best sustain these oral health improvements."
To read the study, visit