Cost-effectiveness of a long-term dental health education program for the prevention of early childhood caries


Aim: To evaluate the benefit-cost (B/C) and cost-effectiveness (C/E) of a long-term dental health education program to prevent early childhood caries (ECC) through home visits. Methods: The data collected over a three year period in a dental health education programme (DHE), previously reported [Kowash et al., 2000] for infants aged 8 months at start, were analysed for B/C and C/E. Dental caries indices (BASCD) for dmft and dmfs were used. Costs were based on British National Health Service (UK) fees for treating children by general dental practitioners and salaries for community dental officers in the Community Dental Services in the UK. Comparisons were made for B/C and C/E with results from a clinical trial of a slow releasing fluoride device (SRFD), community water fluoridation (CMF) and a school based fissure sealant program (FSP) using the hypothetical community of Niessen and Douglass, [1984]. Results: The cavities, as ECC, saved over the three year period indicated a B/C ratio for the DHE of 5.21 compared with SRFD of 4.17; CWF of 1.15 and FSP of 0.42. The C/E results were 1.92, 2.40, 8.66 and 23.74 respectively. Conclusion: A dental health education program of home visits with mothers of young infants to prevent early childhood caries and starting at 8 months of age, gave better benefit-costs and costs effectiveness ratios than other preventive programs.

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Correspondence to Prof. K. J. Toumba.

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Kowash, M.B., Toumba, K.J. & Curzon, M.E.J. Cost-effectiveness of a long-term dental health education program for the prevention of early childhood caries. Eur Arch Paediatr Dent 7, 130–135 (2006).

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Key words

  • Cost effectiveness
  • early childhood caries
  • infants