Family doctors' fluoride savvy, effects of childhood cavities on quality of life are among topics U-M researchers will discuss at national meeting.
University of Michigan School of Dentistry researchers will present papers on a wide range of topics at a meeting of the International Association for Dental Research in San Diego, Calif., March 6-9. Here are highlights of some of their presentations:
TESTING DOCTORS' FLUROIDE SAVVY. Because most children don't visit a dentist until around age 3, family physicians and pediatricians have an important role to play in assessing youngsters' oral health and educating their parents about tooth decay prevention. Professor Amid Ismail and colleagues surveyed about 2,400 physicians nationwide to find out how well they're able to carry out that role. In particular, the researchers wanted to know whether doctors consider a child's risk of developing dental caries (tooth decay) when recommending fluoride supplements.
They gave the doctors a questionnaire that included two case scenarios---one for an upper middle class child with no dental problems, the other for a child in a low-income family with visible dental caries---and asked what they would recommend. The researchers then compared the physicians' answers with "gold standard" answers provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Division of Oral Health.
Of the 1,045 physicians who filled out and returned the questionnaire, most had a general understanding of the importance of fluoride in preventing tooth decay, but they failed to base their recommendations on the individual child's current needs or risk of developing caries in the future.
"Even though we had two scenarios---one child who doesn't need much care right now and one who really does need immediate care---their answers were not that different, especially with regard to fluoride supplement use. It was kind of automatic," says Woosung Sohn, who
Contact: Nancy Ross-Flanigan
University of Michigan