New study examines population-wide oral health dynamics

By - Bad Breath Expert

SUMMARY: A new study outlinednine different methods for reducing childhood caries.

Posted: March 30, 2015

According American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, tooth decay is the most common chronic disease among children. The source notes that while efforts to improve oral health care are not currently aligned with Triple Aim - a wide ranging plan to improve health care - new research could help policymakers decide on the best course of action to take for reducing childhood caries. However, a recent study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association provided a thorough analysis of nine different approaches to better public oral health.

What is Triple Aim? 
Triple Aim is a framework developed by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement that gets its name from three main tenets: improving the health of general populations, reducing the cost of health care per capita and improving the quality and experience of health care worldwide. IHI believes the Triple Aim approach can ensure better health outcomes for Americans and strengthen the nation's health care system overall. 

How does Triple Aim relate to tooth decay? 
It's common knowledge among industry experts that early childhood caries are generally preventable, but tooth decay occurs prevalently at a young age due to a lack of dental care. One reason for this problem is the cost of care, which falls within the scope of the Triple Aim. If dental care becomes more affordable per capita, then ideally many children will receive the dental care they need. Measures taken on a population-wide scale can provide major benefits to general health, but finding the most effective solutions on a systemic level can be complicated.

With this information, scientists tested nine different system dynamics: water fluoridation, fluoride varnish, fluoride toothpaste, medical screening and fluoride varnish application, bacterial transmission reduction, motivational interviewing, dental prevention visits, secondary prevention and combinations. These dynamics were implemented to populations of young children in the New York State Medicaid system, as treating childhood caries takes up a significant portion of Medicaid dollars. 

Finding the optimal method for preventing childhood caries could not only potentially save money, but more importantly, lead to better long-term outcomes for young children. Though the study could not definitively identify one dynamic for providing the best prevention strategy, scientists were able to conclude that implementing specific dynamics in populations could reduce state costs and contribute to better public health. Therefore, these dynamics could benefit the goals of Triple Aim holistically. 

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