Fluorides and sealants have been shown to reduce caries in populations, making fluoride interventions a large part of the dental public health effort. Although public health programs have traditionally focused on fluoride vehicles delivering less than 1,000 ppm of fluoride, more recent efforts have shifted toward the use of high fluoride vehicles such as varnishes and prescription toothpastes. In the USA, states are developing innovative strategies to increase access to dental services by using primary care medical providers to deliver early preventive services as part of well-child care visits. Currently, Medicaid programs in 43 states reimburse medical providers for preventive services including varnish application. Still, there is uncertainty about the cost-effectiveness of such interventions. In many resource-strained environments, with shortages of dental health care providers, lack of fluoridated water and lower dental awareness, it is necessary to develop sustainable programs utilizing already established programs, like primary school education, where caries prevention may be set as a priority. Dental caries among the elderly is an ongoing complex problem. The 5,000-ppm F toothpaste may be a reasonable approach for developing public health programs where root caries control is the main concern. Fluoride varnish and high concentration fluoride toothpaste are attractive because they can easily be incorporated into well-child visits and community-based geriatric programs. Additional research on the effectiveness and costs associated with population-based programs of this nature for high risk groups is needed, especially in areas where a community-based fluoride delivery program is not available.
- Public health
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