Aim: To determine the effect of dental health education (DHE) on caries incidence in infants, through regular home visits by trained DH Educators over a period of 3 years.
Method: A randomly selected cohort of 228 children born between 1st January and 30th September 1995, in a low socioeconomic/high caries suburb of Leeds (UK) were divided into the following groups: A) DHE focused on diet; B) DHE focused on oral hygiene instruction (OHI) using fluoride toothpaste; and C) DHE by a combined diet and OHI message. DHE was given using an interview and counselling for at least 15 minutes at home every 3 months for the first 2 years and twice a year in the third year of the study. A fourth group D was given diet and OHI, at home, once a year only. All children and mothers were examined for caries and oral hygiene. A fifth group E (control) received no DHE and were never visited but examined at 3 years of age only.
Results: In the groups of children visited regularly only two developed caries and three had gingivitis (all in group A). In group E, however, 33% of children had caries and nine (16%) had gingivitis. The differences in caries levels and caries risk factors between study and control groups were statistically significant (P < 0.001). Mothers of the study groups also showed an improvement in their own levels of gingivitis, debris and calculus scores by the second and third examinations (P < 0.001).
Conclusion: Regular home visits to mothers with infants, commencing at or soon after the time of the eruption of the first deciduous teeth, was shown to be effective in preventing the occurrence of nursing caries.