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Keywords:

  • prevention;
  • dental caries;
  • clinical trials;
  • control groups;
  • fluoride mouthrinsing

Abstract

Studies of dental preventive interventions often do not incorporate a concurrent, longitudinal control group in their study design. The existence of a secular decline in dental caries during the conduct of these studies may result in an overstatement of the effectiveness of the preventive intervention. Results of a recent large caries preventive study are analyzed using both a concurrent, longitudinal control group and an historical comparison group to demonstrate this effect. Differences in effectiveness of preventive procedures determined using the two types of control groups are sufficient to suggest a probable misinterpretation of results of studies using only historical comparisons.