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.
2016 Yusuke Matsuyama et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.