An April 26 report by the German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care concluded that regular use of fluoride varnish can prevent cavities in primary teeth.
The researchers studied the results from 15 randomized controlled trials in which 5,002 children were treated with fluoride varnish, while 4,705 children received no such treatment. Children until the age of 6 years, with or without cavities of their primary teeth, were included in the study. The follow-up observation period was two to three years.
A clear advantage of fluoride varnish was determined, with cavities of primary teeth less common after application of fluoride varnish than without it. Furthermore, this treatment completely prevented cavities in every 10th child and reduced progression of cavities in other children.
It did not make a difference for the benefit of the fluoride varnish whether the children already had cavities or whether their teeth were completely intact.
The institute conducted the study because whereas cavities in adults and adolescents was declining, studies in children under the age of 3 have shown that cavities in this age group had hardly decreased. On average, about 14 percent of all 3-year-olds in Germany had cavities.
Fluoride varnish effectively helps in the remineralization of the tooth surface and prevents the development and progression of cavities. The use of fluoride varnish has advantages especially for small children because it hardens quickly.
Bacteria in the dental plaque, sugary foods and drinks and a lack of oral hygiene caused cavities, the institute said. Children are especially likely to have cavities because the enamel on baby teeth is more sensitive than the enamel on permanent teeth. Permanent teeth are sensitive at first, too. When they break through, their enamel has not yet fully hardened, making them susceptible to cavities.
Due to a lack of conclusive data it is unclear, the institute said, whether fluoride application also has advantages regarding further patient-relevant outcomes such as tooth preservation, toothache or dental abscesses.
For more information on cavities in children, visit the American dental Association’s consumer website, MouthHealthy.org.
© 2018 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.