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Skip Navigation U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Agency for Healthcare Research Quality

Prevention of Dental Caries in Preschool Children

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force

Release Date: April 2004

Summary of Recommendations / Supporting Documents

Summary of Recommendation

  • The USPSTF recommends that primary care clinicians prescribe oral fluoride supplementation at currently recommended doses to preschool children older than 6 months of age whose primary water source is deficient in fluoride.

    Rating: "B" recommendation.

    Rationale: The USPSTF found fair evidence that, in preschool children with low fluoride exposure, prescription of oral fluoride supplements by primary care clinicians leads to reduced dental caries. The USPSTF concluded that the benefits of caries prevention using oral fluoride supplementation outweigh the potential harms of dental fluorosis, which in the United States are primarily observed as a mild cosmetic discoloration of the teeth.

  • The USPSTF concludes that the evidence is insufficient to recommend for or against routine risk assessment of preschool children by primary care clinicians for the prevention of dental disease.

    Rating: "I" statement.

    Rationale: The USPSTF found no validated risk-assessment tools or algorithms for assessing dental disease risk by primary care clinicians and little evidence that primary care clinicians are able to systematically assess risk for dental disease among preschool-aged children. The USPSTF further found little evidence that either counseling of parents or referring high-risk children to dental care providers results in fewer caries or reduced dental disease. Thus, the USPSTF concluded there is insufficient evidence to determine the balance between the benefits and harms of routine risk assessment to prevent dental disease among preschool children.

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Supporting Documents

Prevention of Dental Caries in Preschool Children, April 2004
Recommendations and Rationale (PDF File, 188 KB; PDF Help)
Summary of the Evidence (PDF File, 311 KB; PDF Help)
Systematic Evidence Review (PDF File, 850 KB; PDF Help)
What's New (PDF File, 200 KB; PDF Help)

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Current as of April 2004

Internet Citation:

Prevention of Dental Caries in Preschool Children, Topic Page. April 2004. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.


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