Reasons for the caries decline: what do the experts believe?


Douglas Bratthall, Department of Cariology, Faculty of Odontology. Carl Gustafs Vag 34. S-214 21 Malmo, Sweden FAX: +4640332145 e-mail:


The aim of this paper was to describe what experts of today believe are the main reasons explaining the caries decline seen in many westernized countries over the past 3 decades. We have collected the views of a number of international experts, trying to answer the specific question “What are the main reasons why 20-25-year-old persons have less caries nowadays, compared to 30 years ago?”. A questionnaire was mailed to 55 experts with a number of thinkable explanations to be scored according to a predetermined scale. The 25 items were divided into main groups under the heading of diet, fluorides. plaque, saliva, dentist/dental materials and other factors. The experts were asked to think of a specific country or area, and also to specify whether the chosen area had water fluoridation or not. The main finding of our study, based on a 95% response rate, was that there is a very large variation in how the experts graded the impact of various possible factors. For the use of fluoride toothpaste, there was a clear agreement of a definite positive effect.