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Protocol for Northern Ireland Caries Prevention in Practice Trial (NIC-PIP) trial: a randomised controlled trial to measure the effects and costs of a dental caries prevention regime for young children attending primary care dental services

Martin Tickle1, Keith M Milsom1, Michael Donaldson2, Seamus Killough3, Ciaran O'Neill4, Grainne Crealey5, Matthew Sutton6, Solveig Noble7, Margaret Greer57 and Helen V Worthington1*

Author Affiliations

1 School of Dentistry, the University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PL, UK

2 Health and Social Care Board, County Hall. 182 Galgorm Road, Ballymena, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, BT42 1QB, UK

3 British Dental Association, 2 Woodstock Link, Belfast, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, BT6 8DD, UK

4 Department of Economics, National University of Ireland, University Road Galway, County Galway, Ireland

5 Northern Ireland Clinical Research Support Centre, Education and Research Centre, Royal Group of Hospitals Trust, Grosvenor Road, Belfast, Northern Ireland, BT12 6BA, UK

6 School of Community Based Medicine, The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PL, UK

7 Northern Health and Social Care Trust, Greenmount Avenue, Ballymena, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, BT43 6DA, UK

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BMC Oral Health 2011, 11:27  doi:10.1186/1472-6831-11-27

Published: 10 October 2011

Abstract

Background

Dental caries is a persistent public health problem with little change in the prevalence in young children over the last 20 years. Once a child contracts the disease it has a significant impact on their quality of life. There is good evidence from Cochrane reviews including trials that fluoride varnish and regular use of fluoride toothpaste can prevent caries.

The Northern Ireland Caries Prevention in Practice Trial (NIC-PIP) trial will compare the costs and effects of a caries preventive package (fluoride varnish, toothpaste, toothbrush and standardised dental health education) with dental health education alone in young children.

Methods/Design

A randomised controlled trial on children initially aged 2 and 3 years old who are regular attenders at the primary dental care services in Northern Ireland. Children will be recruited and randomised in dental practices. Children will be randomised to the prevention package of both fluoride varnish (twice per year for three years), fluoride toothpaste (1,450 ppm F) (supplied twice per year), a toothbrush (supplied twice a year) or not; both test and control groups receive standardised dental health education delivered by the dentist twice per year. Randomisation will be conducted by the Belfast Trust Clinical Research Support Centre ([CRSC] a Clinical Trials Unit).

1200 participants will be recruited from approximately 40 dental practices. Children will be examined for caries by independent dental examiners at baseline and will be excluded if they have caries. The independent dental examiners will examine the children again at 3 years blinded to study group.

The primary end-point is whether the child develops caries (cavitation into dentine) or not over the three years. One secondary outcome is the number of carious surfaces in the primary dentition in children who experience caries. Other secondary outcomes are episodes of pain, extraction of primary teeth, other adverse events and costs which will be obtained from parental questionnaires.

Discussion

This is a pragmatic trial conducted in general dental practice. It tests a composite caries prevention intervention, which represents an evidence based approach advocated by current guidance from the English Department of Health which is feasible to deliver to all low risk (caries free) children in general dental practice. The trial will provide valuable information to policy makers and clinicians on the costs and effects of caries prevention delivered to young children in general dental practice.

Trial registration

EudraCT No: 2009 - 010725 - 39

ISRCTN: ISRCTN36180119

Ethics Reference No: 09/H1008/93: