Fluoride Use in Health Care Settings: Association with Children's Caries Risk

M. Fontana, G. J. Eckert, M. A. Keels, R. Jackson, B. Katz, B. T. Levy, S. M. Levy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations


Expanded partnership with the medical community is an important strategy for reducing dental caries disparities. The purpose of this study was to assess the relationship between fluoride (F) "in office" (drops/tablets and/or varnish), as prescribed or applied by a health care professional by age 1 y, and 1) caries development and 2) presence of other caries risk factors or mediators (e.g., socioeconomic status). Child-primary caregiver (PCG) pairs ( N = 1,325) were recruited in Indiana, Iowa, and North Carolina as part of a longitudinal cohort study to validate a caries risk tool for primary health care settings. PCGs completed a caries risk questionnaire, while children received caries examinations per the criteria of the International Caries Detection and Assessment System at ages 1, 2.5, and 4 y. Baseline responses regarding children's history of F in office were tested for association with other caries risk variables and caries experience at ages 2.5 and 4 y via generalized estimating equation models applied to logistic regression. The sample was 48% female, and many children (61%) were Medicaid enrolled. The prevalence of cavitated caries lesions increased from 7% at age 2.5 y to 25% by age 4 y. Children who received F in office were likely deemed at higher caries risk and indeed were significantly ( P < 0.01) more likely to develop cavitated caries lesions by ages 2.5 and 4 y, even after F application (odds ratios: 3.5 and 2.3, respectively). Factors significantly associated with receiving F included the following: child being Medicaid enrolled, not having an employed adult in the household, child and PCG often consuming sugary drinks and snacks, and PCG having recent caries experience. Increased F in office from a health care provider by age 1 y was associated with known caries risk factors. Most (69%) children had never been to the dentist, suggesting that risk factors could be alerting medical providers and/or parents, thereby affecting in-office F recommendations. Differences among states could also be related to state-specific F-varnish reimbursement policies (ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01707797).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24-34
Number of pages11
JournalAdvances in dental research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018


  • dental caries
  • fluoride drops or tablets
  • fluoride supplements
  • fluoride varnish
  • interprofessional
  • pediatrician

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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