A cluster randomised trial of effectiveness of educational intervention in primary health care on early childhood caries

Caries Res. 2009;43(2):110-8. doi: 10.1159/000209343. Epub 2009 Mar 24.


Early childhood caries (ECC) remains a serious problem in several developing and developed countries. This cluster randomised trial evaluated the impact of a 6-month educational intervention on ECC. The trial targeted 12- to 15-month-old children (n = 242) and their mothers in Tehran, Iran, visiting 18 public health centres, randomly selected and assigned to two intervention groups and one control group. At baseline, each mother was interviewed and each child underwent a dental examination of all teeth for the number of decayed teeth (dt) and of upper central incisors for the number of teeth with enamel caries (de). All mothers in the two intervention groups (A and B) received oral health instructions from the vaccination staff. In addition, group A received extra reminders. The outcome was defined as increments in the number of teeth with dt or de, as percentages of children developing new dt or de, and as the number needed to treat (NNT). No new de appeared in group A, the mean de increment in group B was 0.2 (SD = 0.6), and in the controls, it was 0.4 (SD = 0.7) (p < 0.05). The percentages of children developing new de were 0, 14, and 26%, respectively. No differences in dt increments were found. Regarding de, NNT for group A was 4 and for B 9; the figures for dt were 13 and 17, respectively. In conclusion, oral health education given to mothers by general health staff is a valuable tool to prevent caries in infants and toddlers.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • DMF Index
  • Dental Caries / prevention & control*
  • Dental Enamel / pathology
  • Dentin / pathology
  • Dietary Sucrose / administration & dosage
  • Educational Status
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Education, Dental*
  • Humans
  • Incisor / pathology
  • Infant
  • Iran
  • Male
  • Mothers / education*
  • Mouth / microbiology
  • Needs Assessment
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Pamphlets
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Reminder Systems
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Social Class
  • Toothbrushing


  • Dietary Sucrose