Teaching received in caries prevention and perceived need for Best Practice Guidelines among recent graduates in Finland

Miira M Vehkalahti, Eeva Widström
European Journal of Dental Education: Official Journal of the Association for Dental Education in Europe 2004, 8 (1): 7-11
The present study evaluated teaching that recent graduates in Finland had received in caries prevention and their perceived need for updated Best Practice Guidelines. A two-page questionnaire was mailed to all dentists in Finland who had graduated from 1995 to 1998 (n = 390). After one reminder, the response rate was 46%. The closed questions covered teaching in 14 caries-preventive methods and its suggestions as to when and on whom to apply such methods. Each dentist's own opinion on the three most important methods for caries prevention in patients with various types of dentition was sought in open questions. The respondents reported that at dental school, on average 12.5 (SD = 2.4) of 14 aspects of caries prevention were covered in theoretical teaching, 5.5 (SD = 3.8) in demonstrations and 8.5 (SD = 3.0) in clinical training. The top four methods teaching suggested for every patient were toothbrushing (100%), use of fluoridated toothpaste (99%), interdental cleaning (98%), and use of xylitol (97%); followed by fluoride varnish (77%) and fissure sealants (54%). The three caries-preventive methods the respondents felt to be most useful were the same for all types of dentitions, in order of importance: (i) toothbrushing and use of fluoridated toothpaste, (ii) supplementary use of fluorides at home and (iii) healthy dietary habits, in particular, avoidance of sucrose. As regards clinical work, such teaching had served the respondents' real-life needs in patients' caries prevention either extremely (44%) or moderately (54%) well; 91% said, however, that they would benefit from nationwide Best Practice Guidelines. In conclusion, the recent graduates' emphasis on patient-active methods in caries prevention may indicate a change in the current policy favouring patient-passive methods.

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