High-quality studies needed to determine optimum dental check-up recall intervals

Zoe Marshman
Evidence-based Dentistry 2014, 15 (2): 40

DATA SOURCES: Cochrane Oral Health Group's Trials Register, CENTRAL, Medline via OVID and EMBASE via OVID to 27 Sept 2013; ongoing trials were searched for, reference lists from relevant articles searched and some authors contacted for additional information. There were no restrictions on language or date of publication.

STUDY SELECTION: Randomised controlled trials (RCTS) assessing the effects of different recall intervals.

DATA EXTRACTION AND SYNTHESIS: Two review authors independently assessed the studies for inclusion, extracted data and carried out risk of bias assessment.

RESULTS: Only one study involving 185 participants (adults and children) was included. It compared clinical examination at 12 months with one at 24 months for caries increments (dmfs/DMFS) and economic cost outcomes (total time used per person).For caries as an outcome, in three- to five-year olds, the mean difference in dmfs increment was -0.90 (95% CI -1.96 to 0.16) and in 16- to 20-year olds, the mean difference in DMFS increment was -0.86 (95% CI -1.75 to 0.03) both in favour of a 12-month recall interval. For time/cost outcomes, in three- to five-year-olds the mean difference in time per participant was ten minutes (95% CI -6.7 to 26.7) and in 16 to 20-year olds it was 23.7 minutes (95% CI 4.12 to 43.28), again both in favour of 12-month recall interval.The study was assessed at high risk of bias and contained insufficient evidence to determine whether 12- or 24-month recall with clinical examination results in improved caries or time/cost outcomes.

CONCLUSIONS: There is a very low quality body of evidence from a single RCT. This was insufficient for drawing any conclusions about the potential beneficial and harmful effects of different dental check-up recall intervals. There is no evidence to support or refute practice of six-monthly intervals. High-quality RCTs are needed to address the question of optimum dental check-up recall intervals.

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