JOURNAL ARTICLE
PRACTICE GUIDELINE
RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
SYSTEMATIC REVIEW
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Screening and Interventions to Prevent Dental Caries in Children Younger Than 5 Years: US Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement.

JAMA 2021 December 8
IMPORTANCE: Dental caries is the most common chronic disease in children in the US. According to the 2011-2016 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, approximately 23% of children aged 2 to 5 years had dental caries in their primary teeth. Prevalence is higher in Mexican American children (33%) and non-Hispanic Black children (28%) than in non-Hispanic White children (18%). Dental caries in early childhood is associated with pain, loss of teeth, impaired growth, decreased weight gain, negative effects on quality of life, poor school performance, and future dental caries.

OBJECTIVE: To update its 2014 recommendation, the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) commissioned a systematic review on screening and interventions to prevent dental caries in children younger than 5 years.

POPULATION: Asymptomatic children younger than 5 years.

EVIDENCE ASSESSMENT: The USPSTF concludes with moderate certainty that there is a moderate net benefit of preventing future dental caries with oral fluoride supplementation at recommended doses in children 6 months or older whose water supply is deficient in fluoride. The USPSTF concludes with moderate certainty that there is a moderate net benefit of preventing future dental caries with fluoride varnish application in all children younger than 5 years. The USPSTF concludes that the evidence is insufficient on performing routine oral screening examinations for dental caries by primary care clinicians in children younger than 5 years and that the balance of benefits and harms of screening cannot be determined.

RECOMMENDATION: The USPSTF recommends that primary care clinicians prescribe oral fluoride supplementation starting at age 6 months for children whose water supply is deficient in fluoride. (B recommendation) The USPSTF recommends that primary care clinicians apply fluoride varnish to the primary teeth of all infants and children starting at the age of primary tooth eruption. (B recommendation) The USPSTF concludes that the current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of routine screening examinations for dental caries performed by primary care clinicians in children younger than 5 years. (I statement).

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