Evidence inconclusive on giving painkillers to children before dental treatment

Child_dentist 3Dental pain is common after dental procedures and can lead to increased fear of dental treatment, avoidance of dental treatment and other associated problems. Reduction of pain is important, particularly in children and adolescents. One way of managing this might be to give painkillers before treatment so that the painkillers can start to work right away. This updated review looked at evidence for using painkillers in children, aged up to 17 years, undergoing treatment without sedation or general anaesthetic, but who may have had a local anaesthetic. The treatments included extracting teeth, restoring teeth and fitting braces. Continue reading

Supervised use of fluoride mouthrinse results in large reductions in decay in children’s permanent teeth

Tooth decay is a health problem worldwide, affecting the vast majority of adults and children. Levels of tooth decay vary between and within countries, but children in lower socioeconomic groups (measured by income, education and employment) tend to have more tooth decay. Untreated tooth decay can cause progressive destruction of the tops of teeth (crowns), often accompanied by severe pain. Repair and replacement of decayed teeth is costly in terms of time and money and is a major drain on the resources of healthcare systems.

Preventing tooth decay in children and adolescents is regarded as a priority for dental services and is considered more cost-effective than treatment. Use of fluoride, a mineral that prevents tooth decay, is widespread. As well as occurring naturally, fluoride is added to the water supply in some areas, and is used in most toothpastes and in other products that are available to varying degrees worldwide. As an extra preventive measure, fluoride can be applied directly to teeth as mouthrinses, lozenges, varnishes and gels.

Fluoride mouthrinse has frequently been used under supervision in school-based programmes to prevent tooth decay. Supervised (depending on the age of the child) or unsupervised fluoride mouthrinse needs to be used regularly to have an effect. Recommended procedure involves rinsing the mouth one to two minutes per day with a less concentrated solution containing fluoride, or once a week or once every two weeks with a more concentrated solution. Because of the risk of swallowing too much fluoride, fluoride mouthrinses are not recommended for children younger than six years of age.

This review updates the Cochrane review of fluoride mouthrinses for preventing tooth decay in children and adolescents that was first published in 2003. Continue reading

Preventing oral cancer by treating oral leukoplakia: limited evidence

shutterstock_163829423Oral leukoplakia is a white patch formed in the mouth lining that cannot be rubbed off. It often does not hurt and may go unnoticed for years. People with leukoplakia develop oral cancer more often than people without it. Preventing this is critical; rates of oral cancer survival longer than five years after diagnosis are low. Drugs, surgery and other therapies have been tried for treatment of oral leukoplakia. Medical and complementary treatments can be locally applied (i.e. directly onto the white patch) or systemic (affecting the whole body, e.g. taken as a pill). Continue reading

No evidence from randomized controlled trials on how to treat bleeding after tooth extraction

Female at the dentistAfter tooth extraction, it is normal for the area to bleed and then clot, generally within a few minutes. It is abnormal if bleeding continues without clot formation, or lasts beyond 8 to 12 hours; this is known as post-extraction bleeding (PEB). Such bleeding incidents can cause distress for patients, who might need emergency dental consultations and interventions. The causes of PEB can be local, a systemic disease, or a medication. To control this bleeding, many local and systemic methods have been practised, based on the clinician’s expertise. To inform clinicians about the best treatment, evidence is needed from studies where people have been randomly allocated to one of at least two different groups, which receive different treatments, or no treatment (i.e. ‘randomised controlled trials’ or RCTs). Continue reading