Due to sugary snacks and inconsistent access to care, tooth decay is a growing problem, especially among children. School-based oral hygiene programs can be effective in preventing this decay and establishing healthy long-term habits, though, according to recent research.
The study focused on a group of 10- and 11-year-olds. The first group of 120 children learned how to practice daily flossing and brushing under the supervision of school nurses for one semester. The second group of 120 did not get any oral hygiene instruction. Both groups participated in a questionnaire survey and received dental examinations about 10 years later.
The subjects who were instructed in oral hygiene had an overall plaque score of 16.9%, while those who had no instruction had a score of 32.6%. Also, 75% of the subjects with instruction had pocketing (community periodontal index ³ 2), while 90.8% of the subjects without instruction had it. Furthermore, the instructed subjects had decayed, missing, and filled teeth and decayed, missing, and filled surfaces values of 4.1 and 6.6, respectively, while the non-instructed subjects had values of 6.2 and 11.0.
In addition to the clinical data, the instructed group demonstrated significantly better dental knowledge, habits, and dental conditions than the non-instructed group. The researchers concluded, then, that highly targeted oral hygiene programs in schools can display positive long-term effectiveness.