Recent Scandinavian studies offer new insights into the oral health of adolescents

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Recent Scandinavian studies offer new insights into the oral health of adolescents

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Several research projects in Scandinavia have focused on improving the oral health of adolescent patients. (Image: Shutterstock/Evgeniy Kalinovskiy)

LEIPZIG, Germany: Statistical tracking has been a priority for the governments of Scandinavian countries in recent years, detailed records being kept on national registries, benefiting researchers who seek to enhance patient care. Some of the following studies utilised those public records to extract in-depth information on adolescent dental care, including possible improvements to the diagnostic process for deep carious lesions, the use of dental examination findings for identifying suspected child abuse, new perspectives on the use of fissure sealing as caries prevention and suggestions for supporting adolescent patients in improving their oral hygiene.

Finland

A Finnish study seeking to establish the incidence and treatment of deep carious lesions among 14- to 15-year-olds in public healthcare in the country found that one-fifth had either an untreated or a previously treated deep carious lesion. It also found that the prevailing treatment method was complete excavation, which does not align with national or international guidelines. The authors thus highlighted the need for continuing education to improve diagnosis and management.

The study, titled “Deep carious lesions and their management among Finnish adolescents: A retrospective radiographic study”, was published on 4 July 2022 in Clinical Oral Investigations.

Norway

Research conducted in Norway has compared the oral health history of children suspected of being victims of abuse to that of a matched cohort. The results indicate that children suspected of being victims of abuse were more likely to have caries and miss dental appointments than children with no history of abuse. Children suspected of being victims of sexual abuse were four times more likely than children suspected of being victims of physical abuse to have caries or fillings in permanent dentition. The authors hope that the results will help dental professionals identify risk factors to better report suspicion of child abuse.

The study, titled “Oral health history in children referred to a child advocacy center in Norway”, was published in the October 2022 issue of Child Abuse and Neglect.

A study that examined the use of fissure sealing to prevent caries and associations between sealing and caries prevalence in Norwegian children at 12 years of age found that sealing of the permanent dentition was used in children considered to have the highest risk of caries according to past experience of dentine caries in the primary teeth. These children were also more likely to develop caries in their permanent teeth. Since sealing alone will not reduce the development of caries, the authors recommended additional use of other caries prevention methods and considering enamel caries and oral health behaviour in caries risk assessment.

The study, titled “Fissure sealing and caries development in Norwegian children”, was published on 7 July 2022 in the European Archives of Paediatric Dentistry.

Sweden

A recent Swedish study interviewed adolescents who had participated in an individually tailored oral health education programme aimed at improving oral hygiene. The interviews revealed that the programme had given the adolescents an understanding of the importance of oral hygiene and the person-centred approach to therapy had contributed to the adolescents feeling respected and acknowledged. Being able to set their own goals and planning and monitoring their oral hygiene behaviours, with guidance and support, had facilitated a change. However, there was the need for external support from dental hygienists, including reminders and educational intervention, to maintain desired hygiene routines.

The study, titled “Adolescents’ experiences of a theory-based behavioural intervention for improved oral hygiene: A qualitative interview study”, was published on 4 August 2022 in the International Journal of Dental Hygiene.

Editorial note:

More information on the dental care system in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden can be found in the 2007 publication Oral B’s Nordic Report on Oral Health and the 2018 publication Quality Indicators in Oral Health Care: A Nordic Project.

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