The FiCTION study is led by the Universities of Dundee and Leeds and Newcastle, working with colleagues at the Universities of Cardiff, Glasgow, Sheffield and Queen Mary University of London. It aims to conclusively establish which course of action for managing decay in children’s teeth will give the best outcomes. More than 50 dental practices across the UK have signed up to the study and are now recruiting the young patients.
Dental decay is one of the most common childhood diseases, with over 40 per cent of children in the UK already experiencing obvious decay in their baby teeth by five years of age, a statistic which has remained largely unchanged for the past 20 years.
Only around 12 per cent of obviously decayed baby teeth in five year olds are treated with fillings, while the vast majority are left untreated, and dental extractions remain the most common reason for children in the UK to receive an out-patient general anaesthetic.
The study will examine the benefits of three different methods of managing tooth decay in baby teeth:
- using only preventive techniques recommended in national guidance (better toothbrushing, less sugar in the diet, application of high fluoride varnish and fissure sealants) to stop the decay.
- conventional fillings (numbing with dental injections then drilling away decay before placing a filling in the cavity) with preventive techniques
- biological treatment of the decay (sealing the decay into teeth with filling materials or under crowns, generally without the need to use dental injections or drills) with preventive techniques
The study is also examining what the children, all aged between 3 and 7, think of the different types of treatments.
Dr Nicola Innes, Clinical Senior Lecturer in Paediatric Dentistry at the University of Dundee, said, ‘This study will find out what works best for managing children’s decay in general practice, when preventing the disease has failed. Children who need dental care will benefit as dentists will have a better understanding of what works for their child patients.’
Professor Gail Douglas who is head of Dental Public Health at the University of Leeds, said, ‘We are really keen to conclusively establish which approach to managing decay gives the very best outcomes for young children. Currently the majority of children’s primary teeth with decay are not restored.
‘We know from small, local studies that there are ways of managing decay which give better results than leaving the decay alone but the FiCTION study is the most rigorous to date, taking place in more than 50 dental practices around the UK to test which approach is best of all.’
The FiCTION trial has been commissioned by the National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment (NIHR HTA).
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