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1.  Patient perceptions regarding benefits of single visit scale and polish: a randomised controlled trial 
BMC Oral Health  2013;13:50.
Single visit scale and polish is frequently carried out in dental practices however there is little evidence to support (or refute) its clinical effectiveness. The purpose of this research was to compare patient-reported outcomes between groups receiving a scale and polish at 6-, 12-, and 24-month intervals. Outcomes recorded included participants’ subjective assessment of their oral cleanliness; the perceived importance of scale and polish for oral health and aesthetics; and frequency at which this treatment is required.
A practice-based randomised control trial was undertaken, with a 24-month follow-up period. Participants were healthy adults with no significant periodontal disease (BPE codes <3) randomly allocated to three groups to receive scale and polish at 6-, 12-, or 24-month intervals. Patient-reported outcomes were recorded at baseline and follow-up. Oral cleanliness was reported using a 5-point scale and recorded by examiners blinded to trial group allocation. A self-completed questionnaire enabled participants to report perceived importance of scale and polish (5-point scale), and required frequency of treatment (6-point scale). The main hypothesis was that participants receiving 6-monthly scale and polish would report higher levels of oral cleanliness compared to participants receiving scale and polish at 12- and 24-month intervals.
369 participants were randomised: 125 to the 6-month group; 122 to the 12-month group; and 122 to the 24-month group. Complete data set analysis was carried out to include 107 (6-month group), 100 (12-month group) and 100 (24-month group) participants. Multiple imputation analyses were conducted where follow-up data was missing. The difference in the proportions of participants reporting a 'high’ level of oral cleanliness at follow-up was significant (Chi-squared P = 0.003): 52.3% (6-month group), 47.0% (12-month group) and 30.0% (24-month group). Scale and polish was thought to be important by the majority in each group for keeping mouths clean and gums healthy, whitening teeth, and preventing bad breath and tooth decay; there were no statistically significant differences between groups at follow-up. Most participants at follow-up thought that the frequency of scale and polish should be “every 6 months” or more frequently: 77.9% (6-month group), 64.6% (12-month group), 71.7% (24-month group); differences between groups were not statistically significant (Chi squared P = 0.126). The results suggest that participants in the 24-month trial group were more likely to choose a scale and polish interval of “once a year” or less frequently (OR 2.89; 95% CI 1.36, 6.13).
The majority of healthy adults regarded 6-monthly single-visit scale and polish as being beneficial for their oral health. Receiving the treatment at different frequencies did not alter this belief; and those with the longest interval between scale and polish provision perceived that their mouth was less clean. In the absence of a strong evidence base to support (or refute) the effectiveness of single-visit scale and polish, the beliefs and preferences of patients regarding scale and polish may be influential drivers for maintaining provision of this treatment.
PMCID: PMC3851473  PMID: 24090395
Practice-based RCT; Routine scale and polish; Patient-reported outcomes
2.  IQuaD dental trial; improving the quality of dentistry: a multicentre randomised controlled trial comparing oral hygiene advice and periodontal instrumentation for the prevention and management of periodontal disease in dentate adults attending dental primary care 
BMC Oral Health  2013;13:58.
Periodontal disease is the most common oral disease affecting adults, and although it is largely preventable it remains the major cause of poor oral health worldwide. Accumulation of microbial dental plaque is the primary aetiological factor for both periodontal disease and caries. Effective self-care (tooth brushing and interdental aids) for plaque control and removal of risk factors such as calculus, which can only be removed by periodontal instrumentation (PI), are considered necessary to prevent and treat periodontal disease thereby maintaining periodontal health. Despite evidence of an association between sustained, good oral hygiene and a low incidence of periodontal disease and caries in adults there is a lack of strong and reliable evidence to inform clinicians of the relative effectiveness (if any) of different types of Oral Hygiene Advice (OHA). The evidence to inform clinicians of the effectiveness and optimal frequency of PI is also mixed. There is therefore an urgent need to assess the relative effectiveness of OHA and PI in a robust, sufficiently powered randomised controlled trial (RCT) in primary dental care.
This is a 5 year multi-centre, randomised, open trial with blinded outcome evaluation based in dental primary care in Scotland and the North East of England. Practitioners will recruit 1860 adult patients, with periodontal health, gingivitis or moderate periodontitis (Basic Periodontal Examination Score 0–3). Dental practices will be cluster randomised to provide routine OHA or Personalised OHA. To test the effects of PI each individual patient participant will be randomised to one of three groups: no PI, 6 monthly PI (current practice), or 12 monthly PI.
Baseline measures and outcome data (during a three year follow-up) will be assessed through clinical examination, patient questionnaires and NHS databases.
The primary outcome measures at 3 year follow up are gingival inflammation/bleeding on probing at the gingival margin; oral hygiene self-efficacy and net benefits.
IQuaD will provide evidence for the most clinically-effective and cost-effective approach to managing periodontal disease in dentate adults in Primary Care. This will support general dental practitioners and patients in treatment decision making.
Trial registration
Protocol ID: ISRCTN56465715
PMCID: PMC4015981  PMID: 24160246
Oral hygiene advice; Scale and polish; Prevention; Toothbrushing advice; Periodontal instrumentation; RCT; Primary care
3.  Comparison of caries detection methods using varying numbers of intra-oral digital photographs with visual examination for epidemiology in children 
BMC Oral Health  2013;13:6.
This was a method comparison study. The aim of study was to compare caries information obtained from a full mouth visual examination using the method developed by the British Association for the Study of Community Dentistry (BASCD) for epidemiological surveys with caries data obtained from eight, six and four intra-oral digital photographs of index teeth in two groups of children aged 5 years and 10/11 years.
Five trained and calibrated examiners visually examined the whole mouth of 240 5-year-olds and 250 10-/11-year-olds using the BASCD method. The children also had intra-oral digital photographs taken of index teeth. The same 5 examiners assessed the intra-oral digital photographs (in groups of 8, 6 and 4 intra-oral photographs) for caries using the BASCD criteria; dmft/DMFT were used to compute Weighted Kappa Statistic as a measure of intra-examiner reliability and intra-class correlation coefficients as a measure of inter-examiner reliability for each method. A method comparison analysis was performed to determine the 95% limits of agreement for all five examiners, comparing the visual examination method with the photographic assessment method using 8, 6 and 4 intra-oral photographs.
The intra-rater reliability for the visual examinations ranged from 0.81 to 0.94 in the 5-year-olds and 0.90 to 0.97 in the 10-/11-year-olds. Those for the photographic assessments in the 5-year-olds were for 8 intra-oral photographs, 0.86 to 0.94, for 6 intra-oral photographs, 0.85 to 0.98 and for 4 intra-oral photographs, 0.80 to 0.96; for the 10-/11-year-olds were for 8 intra-oral photographs 0.84 to 1.00, for 6 intra-oral photographs 0.82 to 1.00 and for 4 intra-oral photographs 0.72 to 0.98. The 95% limits of agreement were −1.997 to 1.967, -2.375 to 2.735 and −2.250 to 2.921 respectively for the 5-year-olds and −2.614 to 2.027, -2.179 to 3.887 and −2.594 to 2.163 respectively for the 10-/11-year-olds.
The photographic assessment method, particularly assessment of 8 intra-oral digital photographs is comparable to the visual examination method in the primary dentition. With the additional benefits of archiving, remote scoring, allowing multiple scorers to score images and enabling longitudinal analysis, the photographic assessment method may be used as an alternative caries detection method in the primary dentition in situations where the visual examination method may not be applicable such as when examiner blinding is required and in practice based randomised controlled trials (RCTs).
PMCID: PMC3549278  PMID: 23312001
Intra-oral photographs; Caries; Visual examination; Dental epidemiology
4.  Protocol for diagnostic test accuracy study: the efficacy of screening for common dental diseases by Dental Care Professionals 
BMC Oral Health  2013;13:45.
The bulk of service delivery in dentistry is delivered by general dental practitioners, when a large proportion of patients who attend regularly are asymptomatic and do not require treatment. This represents a substantial and unnecessary cost, given that it is possible to delegate a range of tasks to dental care professionals, who are a less expensive resource. Screening for the common dental diseases by dental care professionals has the potential to release general dental practitioner’s time and increase the capacity to care for those who don't currently access services. The aim of this study is to compare the diagnostic test accuracy of dental care professionals when screening for dental caries and periodontal disease in asymptomatic adults aged eighteen years of age.
Ten dental practices across the North-West of England will take part in a diagnostic test accuracy study with 200 consecutive patients in each practice. The dental care professionals will act as the index test and the general dental practitioner will act as the reference test. Consenting asymptomatic patients will enter the study and see either the dental care professionals or general dental practitioner first to remove order effects. Both sets of clinicians will make an assessment of dental caries and periodontal disease and enter their decisions on a record sheet for each participant. The primary outcome measure is the diagnostic test accuracy of the dental care professionals and sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value and negative predictive values will be reported. A number of clinical factors will be assessed for confounding.
The results of this study will determine whether dental care professionals can screen for the two most prevalent oral diseases. This will inform the literature and is apposite given the recent policy change in the United Kingdom towards direct access.
PMCID: PMC3849956  PMID: 24053760
Screening; Diagnostic test accuracy; Dental care professional; Sensitivity and specificity
5.  Determining the optimal model for role-substitution in NHS dental services in the United Kingdom 
BMC Oral Health  2013;13:46.
Role-substitution describes a model of dental care where Dental Care Professionals (DCPs) provide some of the clinical activity previously undertaken by General Dental Practitioners. This has the potential to increase technical efficiency, the capacity to care and reduce costs. Technical efficiency is defined as the production of the maximum amount of output from a given amount of input so that the service operates at the production frontier i.e. optimal level of productivity. Academic research into technical efficiency is becoming increasingly utilised in health care, although no studies have investigated the efficiency of NHS dentistry or role-substitution in high-street dental practices. The aim of this study is to examine the barriers and enablers that exist for role-substitution in general dental practices in the NHS and to determine the most technically efficient model for role-substitution.
A screening questionnaire will be sent to DCPs to determine the type and location of role-substitutive models employed in NHS dental practices in the United Kingdom (UK). Semi-structured interviews will then be conducted with practice owners, DCPs and patients at selected sites identified by the questionnaire. Detail will be recorded about the organisational structure of the dental team, the number of NHS hours worked and the clinical activity undertaken. The interviews will continue until saturation and will record the views and attitudes of the members of the dental team. Final numbers of interviews will be determined by saturation.
The second work-stream will examine the technical efficiency of the selected practices using Data Envelopment Analysis and Stochastic Frontier Modeling. The former is a non-parametric technique and is considered to be a highly flexible approach for applied health applications. The latter is parametric and is based on frontier regression models that estimate a conventional cost function.
Maximising health for a given level and mix of resources is an ethical imperative for health service planners. This study will determine the technical efficiency of role-substitution and so address one of the key recommendations of the Independent Review of NHS dentistry in England.
PMCID: PMC3849722  PMID: 24063247
6.  Comparison of photographic and visual assessment of occlusal caries with histology as the reference standard 
BMC Oral Health  2012;12:10.
The purpose of this study was to compare diagnostic performance for the detection of caries using photographs with an established visual examination method and histological sections as the reference standard.
50 extracted permanent teeth were assessed for the presence of occlusal caries by 9 examiners using two methods; traditional visual examination developed by BASCD and photographs produced by an intra-oral camera. For both methods, diagnoses were made at “caries into dentine” level. The teeth were histologically sectioned and the diagnostic decisions using visual and photographic assessment were compared to the histological reference standard. Inter- and intra- examiner reliability for the methods was assessed and weighted kappa values were calculated.
The visual examination method had a median sensitivity value of 65.6% and a median specificity value of 82.4%. The photographic assessments method had a median sensitivity of 81.3% and a median specificity of 82.4%.
The photographic assessments method had a higher sensitivity for caries detection than the visual examination. The two methods had comparable specificities and good intra- and inter- examiner reliability.
PMCID: PMC3444379  PMID: 22540771
7.  Clinical outcomes of Single-Visit oral Prophylaxis: A practice-based randomised controlled trial 
BMC Oral Health  2011;11:35.
Practice-based general dental practitioners routinely provide "scale and polish" or "oral prophylaxis" to patients attending their practices. Despite its routine provision, there is no evidence to support the clinical effectiveness of single-visit scale and polish, nor the frequency at which it should be provided. A recent systematic review recommended that future trials investigating scale and polish should involve dental practice patients.
A practice-based parallel randomised controlled trial with 24-month follow-up was conducted. Healthy adults (Basic Periodontal Examination [BPE] codes <3) were randomly assigned to 3 groups (6-month, 12-month, or 24-month interval between scale and polish). The primary outcome was gingival bleeding with the hypothesis that 6-monthly scale and polish would result in lower prevalence than 12-month or 24-month frequency. Follow-up measurements were recorded by examiners blinded to the allocation. 125, 122 and 122 participants were randomised to the 6-month, 12-month and 24-month groups respectively. Complete data set analyses were conducted for 307 participants: 107, 100, and 100 in the 6-month, 12-month and 24-month groups respectively. Chi-square test and ANOVA were used to compare treatment groups at follow-up. Logistic regression and ANCOVA were used to estimate the relationship between outcome and treatment group, adjusted for baseline values. Multiple imputation analyses were also carried out for participants with incomplete data sets.
Prevalence of gingival bleeding at follow-up was 78.5% (6-month), 78% (12-month) and 82% (24-month) (p = 0.746). There were no statistically significant differences between groups with respect to follow-up prevalence of plaque and calculus. Statistically significant differences detected in the amount (millimetres) of calculus were too small to be clinically significant. Seventeen (4.6%) participants were withdrawn from the trial to receive additional treatment.
This trial could not identify any differences in outcomes for single-visit scale and polish provided at 6, 12 and 24 month frequencies for healthy patients (with no significant periodontal disease). However, this is the first trial of scale and polish which has been conducted in a general practice setting and the results are not conclusive. Larger trials with more comprehensive measurement and long-term follow up need to be undertaken to provide a firm evidence base for this intervention. This trial informs the design of future practice-based trials on this subject.
PMCID: PMC3280181  PMID: 22204658
8.  Protocol for Northern Ireland Caries Prevention in Practice Trial (NIC-PIP) trial: a randomised controlled trial to measure the effects and costs of a dental caries prevention regime for young children attending primary care dental services 
BMC Oral Health  2011;11:27.
Dental caries is a persistent public health problem with little change in the prevalence in young children over the last 20 years. Once a child contracts the disease it has a significant impact on their quality of life. There is good evidence from Cochrane reviews including trials that fluoride varnish and regular use of fluoride toothpaste can prevent caries.
The Northern Ireland Caries Prevention in Practice Trial (NIC-PIP) trial will compare the costs and effects of a caries preventive package (fluoride varnish, toothpaste, toothbrush and standardised dental health education) with dental health education alone in young children.
A randomised controlled trial on children initially aged 2 and 3 years old who are regular attenders at the primary dental care services in Northern Ireland. Children will be recruited and randomised in dental practices. Children will be randomised to the prevention package of both fluoride varnish (twice per year for three years), fluoride toothpaste (1,450 ppm F) (supplied twice per year), a toothbrush (supplied twice a year) or not; both test and control groups receive standardised dental health education delivered by the dentist twice per year. Randomisation will be conducted by the Belfast Trust Clinical Research Support Centre ([CRSC] a Clinical Trials Unit).
1200 participants will be recruited from approximately 40 dental practices. Children will be examined for caries by independent dental examiners at baseline and will be excluded if they have caries. The independent dental examiners will examine the children again at 3 years blinded to study group.
The primary end-point is whether the child develops caries (cavitation into dentine) or not over the three years. One secondary outcome is the number of carious surfaces in the primary dentition in children who experience caries. Other secondary outcomes are episodes of pain, extraction of primary teeth, other adverse events and costs which will be obtained from parental questionnaires.
This is a pragmatic trial conducted in general dental practice. It tests a composite caries prevention intervention, which represents an evidence based approach advocated by current guidance from the English Department of Health which is feasible to deliver to all low risk (caries free) children in general dental practice. The trial will provide valuable information to policy makers and clinicians on the costs and effects of caries prevention delivered to young children in general dental practice.
Trial registration
EudraCT No: 2009 - 010725 - 39
Ethics Reference No: 09/H1008/93:
PMCID: PMC3196725  PMID: 21985746

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