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The effectiveness of routine dental checks: a systematic review of the evidence base

Davenport CF, Elley KM, Fry-Smith A, Taylor-Weetman CL, Taylor RS . Br Dent J. 2003;195(2):87-98; discussion 85

AIMS: To systematically review the effectiveness of routine dental checks of different recall frequencies in adults and children. METHODS: Search methods included electronic bibliographic databases up to March 2001, relevant internet sites, citation checking and contact with experts and professional dental bodies. Inclusion criteria: (1) Study design: any; (2) Population: deciduous, mixed and permanent dentition; (3) Intervention: 'Routine dental check': 'clinical examination, advice, charting (including monitoring of periodontal status) and report' as defined in the NHS Executive General Dental Service Statement of Dental Remuneration; (4) Comparator: no routine dental check or routine dental check(s) of different recall frequency; (5) Primary outcomes: caries, periodontal disease, quality of life, oral cancer. RESULTS: Twenty eight studies were identified for the review. Studies were poorly reported and clinically heterogenous which restricted comparison between studies and limited generalisability to the UK situation. There was no consistency across multiple studies in the direction of effect of different dental check frequencies on measures of caries in deciduous mixed or permanent dentition, periodontal disease or oral cancer in permanent dentition. No studies were identified linking empirical measures of quality of life associated with oral health and dental check frequency. CONCLUSIONS: There is no existing high quality evidence to support or refute the practice of encouraging six-monthly dental checks in adults and children.