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Keywords:

  • Oral health programmes;
  • remote Indigenous children;
  • Australia

Aim: To evaluate the effect of a community-oriented primary health care (CPHC) intervention on oral health behaviours of Indigenous preschool children living in remote communities of Australia's Northern Territory. Methods: The study was a community-clustered randomised controlled trial over two years, set in 30 remote Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory of Australia. Children aged 18–47 months at baseline were enrolled in the study. The intervention included fluoride varnish applications, training of primary care workers, and health promotion for oral health at an individual, family and community level. Intervention communities received six-monthly visits over two years and control communities were visited at baseline and two years later with no contact in the intervening period. The outcome measures reported in this paper are the impact of the intervention on two secondary endpoints: oral health promotion activities in the community and personal oral health practices of children. Results: The intervention did not produce any significant change in oral health behaviours, clinical measures of oral hygiene, or community programmes promoting oral health. Dental caries can be reduced but will continue to be a problem among young remote Indigenous children while they experience major social disadvantage.