Project reduces toddler tooth decay

October 2, 2012

The answer to early childhood tooth decay could be just a phone call away, thanks to new research by the University of Queensland and Queensland Health.

In a study conducted in Brisbane's south, where 23 per cent of toddlers suffer from substantial , researchers have found preventative strategies could be the solution to the enormous cost of poor oral health on our public system.

Oral health education and support for mothers, including and telephone calls, were found to reduce the rate of decay in children down to 2 per cent.

Kathryn Plonka, UQ School of Dentistry PhD candidate and Senior Oral Health Therapist at Logan-Beaudesert Public Oral Health Service, based her research on more than 1000 mothers and their children in the Logan-Beaudesert Area.

This area has some of the highest prevalence of in Queensland. Through home visits, Ms Plonka's project helped reduced the rate of decay to just 2 per cent and down to 7 per cent via regular telephone calls.

"We wanted to find out what kind of would help communities the most and the drastic improvements we saw from both home visits and telephone support were exciting," Ms Plonka said.

According to Ms Plonka, the current model of care predominantly supports a "drill and fill" approach with minimal emphasis placed on prevention.

The research also revealed that prenatal education had a vital role in ensuring children's oral health.

"When a child is born, the mouth is sterile and is acquired over the first couple years of life, so timing of prevention is everything," Ms Plonka said.

"Mums are so busy and tired with baby in the first few months it makes sense to include care in prenatal education."

In both the home visit education program and the telephone education program, Ms Plonka used tooth brushing instruction and general six monthly from birth. The mothers could contact the program for advice and support as their children progressed.

The children who still developed tooth decay in the study were found to be more likely to have developmental defects in tooth enamel, which occur pre-birth and are very difficult to prevent.

"The effects of preventative education not only reduces the rate of decay in children, but can contribute to developing informed, healthy habits and therefore reduce adult decay later on," Ms Plonka said.

More information: To find out more about Ms Plonka's Preventive Strategies for Early Childhood Caries (ECC) from Antenatal to Age 36 Months head to www.dentistry.uq.edu.au/paediatric-caries.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Small molecule inhibitor prevents or impedes tooth cavities in a preclinical model

August 10, 2017
University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers have created a small molecule that prevents or impedes tooth cavities in a preclinical model. The inhibitor blocks the function of a key virulence enzyme in an oral bacterium, ...

Understanding genetic synergy in cleft palate

July 19, 2017
Like all of the individual elements of fetal development, palate growth is a marvel of nature. In part of this process, ledges of tissue on the sides of the face grow downwards on each side of the tongue, then upward, fusing ...

Use of prefabricated blood vessels may revolutionize root canals

June 12, 2017
While root canals are effective in saving a tooth that has become infected or decayed, this age-old procedure may cause teeth to become brittle and susceptible to fracture over time. Now researchers at OHSU in Portland, Oregon, ...

Recreational cannabis, used often, increases risk of gum disease

May 24, 2017
Columbia University dental researchers have found that frequent recreational use of cannabis—including marijuana, hashish, and hash oil—increases the risk of gum disease.

Grape seed extract could extend life of resin fillings

May 9, 2017
A natural compound found in grape seed extract could be used to strengthen dentin—the tissue beneath a tooth's enamel—and increase the life of resin fillings, according to new research at the University of Illinois at ...

Crooked bite may indicate early life stress

April 13, 2017
Research has repeatedly confirmed that the first 1,000 days after conception strongly influence a person's life expectancy and susceptibility to chronic diseases. The primary marker used to identify early life stress is low ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.