Effects of programs for prevention of early childhood caries. A systematic review

Med Princ Pract. 2007;16(6):437-42. doi: 10.1159/000107748.


Objective: To determine the most effective intervention program for prevention of early childhood caries.

Materials and methods: All studies published after 1966 were identified by searching electronic databases (Medline, The Cochrane Library, Embase, Dissertation and Serfile databases) and manual searching. Studies were included if they analyzed the effect of an intervention to prevent caries in 0- to 5-year-old children, recorded caries as dmfs, dmft, dfs or dft, and utilized a randomized controlled study design.

Results: The initial search produced 916 citations, 19 of which met the inclusion criteria. The quality of the articles was assessed independently by the reviewers based on randomized selection and double blinding. The 7 articles included in the actual review evaluated the effects of dental health education, prenatal fluoride administration, topical fluoride application, preventive dental programs, and use of fluoridated toothpaste. Meta-analysis was not possible because of differences in the types of intervention among the studies.

Conclusion: Conclusive evidence regarding the best intervention to prevent early childhood caries could not be drawn due to the flawed design of somepapers. However, fluoride-based interventions appear to be effective in young children. More studies are required to determine the best method of delivery.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Dental Care for Children
  • Dental Caries / prevention & control*
  • Dental Prophylaxis
  • Health Education, Dental
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Oral Hygiene
  • Program Evaluation