The aim of the study is to reduce the high prevalence of tooth decay in children in a remote, rural Indigenous community in Australia, by application of a single annual dental preventive intervention. The study seeks to (1) assess the effectiveness of an annual oral health preventive intervention in slowing the incidence of dental caries in children in this community, (2) identify the mediating role of known risk factors for dental caries and (3) assess the cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit of the intervention.
The intervention is novel in that most dental preventive interventions require regular re-application, which is not possible in resource constrained communities. While tooth decay is preventable, self-care and healthy habits are lacking in these communities, placing more emphasis on health services to deliver an effective dental preventive intervention. Importantly, the study will assess cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness for broader implementation across similar communities in Australia and internationally.
There is an urgent need to reduce the burden of dental decay in these communities, by implementing effective, cost-effective, feasible and sustainable dental prevention programs. Expected outcomes of this study include improved oral and general health of children within the community; an understanding of the costs associated with the intervention provided, and its comparison with the costs of allowing new lesions to develop, with associated treatment costs. Findings should be generalisable to similar communities around the world.
The research is registered with the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ANZCTR), registration number ACTRN12615000693527; date of registration: 3rd July 2015.