Volume 26 (2016) Issue 11 Pages 563-571
Background: Dental caries inequalities still severely burden individuals’ and society’s health, even in countries where fluoride toothpastes are widely used and the incidence of dental caries has been decreasing. School-based fluoride mouth-rinse (S-FMR) programs, a population strategy for dental caries prevention, might decrease dental caries inequalities. This study investigated the association between S-FMR and decreasing dental caries prevalence and caries-related inequalities in 12-year-olds by Japanese prefecture.
Methods: We conducted an ecological study using multi-year prefecture-level aggregated data of children born between 1994 and 2000 in all 47 Japanese prefectures. Using two-level linear regression analyses (birth year nested within prefecture), the association between S-FMR utilization in each prefecture and 12-year-olds’ decayed, missing, or filled permanent teeth (DMFT), which indicates dental caries experience in their permanent teeth, were examined. Variables that could explain DMFT inequalities between prefectures, such as dental caries experience at age 3 years, dentist density, and prefectural socioeconomic circumstances, were also considered.
Results: High S-FMR utilization was significantly associated with low DMFT at age 12 (coefficient −0.011; 95% confidence interval, −0.018 to −0.005). S-FMR utilization explained 25.2% of the DMFT variance between prefectures after considering other variables. Interaction between S-FMR and dental caries experience at age 3 years showed that S-FMR was significantly more effective in prefectures where the 3-year-olds had high levels of dental caries experience.
Conclusions: S-FMR, administered to children of all socioeconomic statuses, was associated with lower DMFT. Utilization of S-FMR reduced dental caries inequalities via proportionate universalism.