Preventing Dental Caries in Children under 5 Years: Systematic Review Updating USPSTF Recommendation.

Pediatrics. 2013 Aug;132(2):332-50. doi: 10.1542/peds.2013-1469. Epub 2013 Jul15.Chou R, Cantor A, Zakher B, Mitchell JP, Pappas M.

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Screening and preventive interventions by primary care 
providers could improve outcomes related to early childhood caries. The objective
of this study was to update the 2004 US Preventive Services Task Force systematic
review on prevention of caries in children younger than 5 years of age.
METHODS: Searching Medline and the Cochrane Library (through March 2013) and
reference lists, we included trials and controlled observational studies on the
effectiveness and harms of screening and treatments. One author extracted study
characteristics and results, which were checked for accuracy by a second author. 
Two authors independently assessed study quality.
RESULTS: No study evaluated effects of screening by primary care providers on
clinical outcomes. One good-quality cohort study found pediatrician examination
associated with a sensitivity of 0.76 for identifying a child with cavities. No
new trials evaluated oral fluoride supplementation. Three new randomized trials
were consistent with previous studies in finding fluoride varnish more effective 
than no varnish (reduction in caries increment 18% to 59%). Three trials of
xylitol were inconclusive regarding effects on caries. New observational studies 
were consistent with previous evidence showing an association between early
childhood fluoride use and enamel fluorosis. Evidence on the accuracy of risk
prediction instruments in primary care settings is not available.
CONCLUSIONS: There is no direct evidence that screening by primary care
clinicians reduces early childhood caries. Evidence previously reviewed by the US
Preventive Services Task Force found oral fluoride supplementation effective at
reducing caries incidence, and new evidence supports the effectiveness of
fluoride varnish in higher-risk children.