11:07pm Monday 21 October 2019

Study aims to identify best way of preventing child tooth decay

Experts from Cardiff University, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board’s Community Dental Service and Swansea University have been awarded £1.1M by the National Institute for Health Research to compare the effectiveness of  two methods of preventing dental decay.

Despite an overall decline in dental decay across the UK, 57% of 15 year-olds still currently require a filling or extraction.  Dental caries are also unevenly distributed and are closely linked to socioeconomic deprivation – with a three-fold difference in disease burden from most to least deprived communities.

“In school children, dental decay  most commonly affects the biting surfaces of molar (back) teeth,” according to Professor Ivor Chestnutt, Consultant in Dental Public Health from Cardiff University’s School of Dentistry, who leads the study.

Two methods of decay prevention technology are currently widely used by the NHS.  

Pit and fissure sealants are a plastic coating applied to the biting surface of the tooth which helps prevent the harbouring of decay causing bacteria.

The alternative method involves the painting of fluoride varnish onto the tooth surface which makes the tooth surface more resistant to decay.
Both treatments have been shown to be effective yet, there is little evidence to show which works best, which is most acceptable to children and offers the best value for money.

Professor Chestnutt added: “Although both of these treatments have been around for many years and have been shown to work, to know which works best and is most acceptable from the perspective of the children, their parents, the dental staff carrying out the treatments, and the schools in which the treatment will be delivered will be of tremendous value to the National Health Service.  

“We are delighted to have the opportunity to carry out this study, the results of which will be of relevance to improving oral health, not just locally, but nationally and internationally.”

The study will be undertaken by Community Dental Service in Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, who deliver a primary school-based dental prevention programme via mobile dental clinics.  

The three-year study, which starts in early 2011, aims to recruit over 2,800 primary school pupils from schools from Communities First areas across South Wales  

Dr Deborah Fitzsimmons, Senior Lecturer, School of Human and Health Sciences at Swansea University said: “In an age of economic restraint, it is essential that interventions are both effective and cost-effective.

“This study aims to ensure that limited public funds are allocated in the most beneficial way to enhance the oral health of children’. We look forward to working with our colleagues in Cardiff on this important study.”

The children will be followed up for three years to investigate the comparable effectiveness of the two treatments with results expected to be published in early 2015.



Further information on the study is available by contacting:

Professor Ivor Chestnutt
Professor and Hon Consultant in Dental Public Health
Cardiff University
School of Dentistry
Telephone:  029 2074 6680
E-mail: chestnuttig@cardiff.ac.uk

Chris Jones
Public Relations
Cardiff University
Tel: 029 20 874731
E-mail: jonesc83@cardiff.ac.uk

Cardiff School of Dentistry
Cardiff School of Dentistry is the only dental school in Wales and provides significant leadership in dental teaching, research and patient care. Teaching and research are centred within the University Dental Hospital on the Heath Park site.

The School’s teaching has been assessed as “excellent” by government appointed panels and it continues to develop and update its teaching methods to ensure that graduates are well-equipped to respond effectively to meet the challenges of clinical practice in the 21st century.

Research undertaken both with the School, and as part of national and international collaborations, continues to inform the understanding of human disease processes, healthcare planning and delivery. Research has evolved around three major research themes: Applied Clinical Research and Public Health; Tissue Engineering and Reparative Dentistry; and Learning & Scholarship. The most recent independent assessment of research in British universities placed the School 5th in the UK when ranked by the percentage of research assessed as internationally excellent or world-leading.

Cardiff University
Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities. Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, the University today combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. The University has just established the Universities Police Science Institute, a joint venture with South Wales Police and the University of Glamorgan, which will be the first institute in England and Wales dedicated to addressing issues facing modern police forces. Cardiff is a member of the Russell Group of Britain’s leading research universities.The University website is at: www.cardiff.ac.uk

Swansea University
Swansea University is a world-class, research-led university situated in stunning parkland overlooking Swansea Bay on the edge of the Gower peninsula, the UK’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Founded in 1920, the University now offers around 500 undergraduate courses and 150 postgraduate courses to more than 13,800 students. www.swansea.ac.uk.

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