• dental caries;
  • epidemiology;
  • fluoride;
  • statistics

Abstract –  Objectives:  Previous studies have shown that fluoride mouthrinsing programmes are effective in reducing caries among children and adolescents. National surveys of child dental health in the UK confirm that there is variation in oral health. In particular, children of low socioeconomic status in Scotland have a disproportionately high share of dental disease. This study aimed to evaluate an existing school-based fluoride mouthrinsing programme on dental caries in populations stratified by socioeconomic status.

Methods:  A random sample of 1333 children surveyed by the National Dental Inspection Programme with average age 11.4 years was included in the study. Caries prevalence data were collected for the 661 rinsers and 672 nonrinsers. Chi-squared tests and t-tests were carried out to test differences in proportion and in mean D3MFT, respectively. The data were modelled using multilevel logistic regression, adjusting for age, sex, deprivation and rinse status.

Results:  There is a strong negative association between deprivation and prevalence of D3MFT = 0. There is no significant difference in prevalence of D3MFT between rinsers and nonrinsers, however, mean D3MFT is greater for nonrinsers within each deprivation category. After adjusting for age, sex and deprivation, the odds of a tooth being decayed missing or filled for a child who rinsed are 0.79 (0.64, 0.98) compared with those of a child who did not.

Conclusions:  Fluoride rinsing can be effectively targeted at children from deprived areas through school-based initiatives. There are some difficulties in recruiting all children from the more deprived backgrounds, but overall reductions in D3MFT were observed.