Roger Chou, M.D., from the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, and colleagues updated the 2014 review on dental caries screening and preventive interventions to inform the USPSTF. Thirty-two studies, with 106,694 participants, were included. None of the studies examined the effects of primary care screening on clinical outcomes. In higher-risk populations or settings, topical fluoride compared with placebo or no topical fluoride was associated with reduced caries burden and a reduced likelihood for incident caries, with no increase in fluorosis risk.
Based on the current evidence, the USPSTF concludes with moderate certainty that for children 6 months and older whose water supply is deficient in fluoride, there is a moderate net benefit for oral fluoride supplementation at recommended doses for preventing future dental caries (B recommendation). The USPSTF also concludes with moderate certainty that for all children younger than 5 years, fluoride varnish application has a moderate net benefit for preventing future dental caries (B recommendation).
“Primary care clinicians have an important role in helping to prevent cavities in children under 5 years old,” a task force member said in a statement. “By applying fluoride varnish starting when children’s teeth first come in, and prescribing fluoride supplements for children with low fluoride in their water supply, clinicians can help keep their young patients’ teeth healthy.”