Objectives. To investigate the incidence of rehardening of caries lesions in children in Southern China taking part in a preventive programme. Design. Longitudinal study. Sample and methods. A prevention programme was established for 168 3-6-year-old children in a kindergarten (KG1), which included regular oral health education sessions and a daily toothbrushing exercise using fluoridated toothpaste (1000 ppm F). A group of 121 children studying in two other kindergartens without a preventive programme formed the controls. Due to lack of resources and dental personnel, restorative and other curative treatments were not provided. Results. Rehardening of dentine caries (arrested caries) was found in children in both test and control groups. At the third annual examination, 45% of the caries lesions on the proximal surfaces of primary anterior teeth in KG1 children found at the baseline and previous annual examinations had become arrested. A multiple linear regression analysis indicated that baseline ds score and its interactions with the prevention programme, gender and the child's oral hygiene all had significant effect on the number of tooth surfaces with arrested caries at the third annual examination. Conclusion. Results from this study support the use of simple prevention programmes to stabilize the caries situation in communities where intensive use of trained dental personnel is not feasible.
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