A randomised controlled trial of the efficacy of supervised toothbrushing in high-caries-risk children

Caries Res. Jul-Aug 2002;36(4):294-300. doi: 10.1159/000063925.


Scottish children have one of the highest levels of caries experience in Europe. Only 33% of 5-year-old children in Dundee who developed caries in their first permanent molars by 7 brushed their teeth twice a day. High-caries-risk children should benefit if they brush more often with fluoridated toothpaste. The aim of this clinical trial was to determine the reduction in 2-year caries increment that can be achieved by daily supervised toothbrushing on school-days with a toothpaste containing 1,000 ppm fluoride (as sodium monofluorophosphate) and 0.13% calcium glycerophosphate, combined with recommended daily home use, compared to a control group involving no intervention other than 6-monthly clinical examinations. Five hundred and thirty-four children, mean age 5.3, in schools in deprived areas of Tayside were recruited. Each school had two parallel classes, one randomly selected to be the brushing class and the other, the control. Local mothers were trained as toothbrushing supervisors. Children brushed on school-days and received home supplies. A single examiner undertook 6-monthly examinations recording plaque, caries (D(1) level), and used FOTI to supplement the visual caries examination. For children in the brushing classes, the 2-year mean caries increment on first permanent molars was 0.81 at D(1) and 0.21 at D(3) compared to 1.19 and 0.48 for children in the control classes (significant reductions of 32% at D(1) and 56% at D(3)). In conclusion, high-caries-risk children have been shown to have significantly less caries after participating in a supervised toothbrushing programme with a fluoridated toothpaste.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Cariostatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Child, Preschool
  • DMF Index
  • Dental Caries / prevention & control*
  • Dentition, Permanent
  • Fluorides / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Observer Variation
  • Phosphates / therapeutic use*
  • Research Design
  • School Dentistry*
  • Scotland
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Tooth, Deciduous
  • Toothbrushing*
  • Toothpastes / chemistry
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vulnerable Populations


  • Cariostatic Agents
  • Phosphates
  • Toothpastes
  • fluorophosphate
  • Fluorides