Resin and glass ionomer (GI) dental sealants are used to prevent cavities in the grooves of back teeth. Their use in children younger than 5 is rare.
While Medicaid programs in seventeen states provide reimbursement for the use of dental sealants on the primary or baby teeth of younger children, not all private insurance plans do so; recipients are typically older than 5 years.
Cavities in very young children tend to first appear on the smooth surfaces of the front teeth.
The next cavities usually appear in the grooves of the back teeth, where fluoride varnish (FV) is less effective.
Unfortunately, young children do not often receive treatment to prevent the appearance of early childhood tooth decay or caries on the smooth surfaces of their front teeth or the grooved biting surfaces of their back teeth.
The goal of the GIFVT study is to determine whether younger children can benefit from GI sealants on their back teeth and whether GI sealants in conjunction with fluoride varnish (FV) are better at preventing tooth decay than FV alone.
This is the first time that GI sealants have been used in a clinical trial featuring children between 2.5 and 5 years of age.
If the GIFVT study finds that dental sealants can successfully protect young children from cavities or tooth decay, this could greatly impact health policy.
Children participating in the study live in San Diego County near the Mexican border.
Children without cavities are randomly placed in one of two groups: one receives only FV, while the other receives both GI sealants and FV (GI+FV).
Researchers will then determine which of the two groups has more cavities over 36 months.
It is hypothesized that the GI+FV group will have fewer cavities than the FV group.
This randomized, controlled trial has enrolled 597 children.
Saliva samples are being collected from 80 of the enrolled children both before and after they receive FV.
Intraoral photographs will help researchers to assess GI sealant application and retention in these 80 children.
Researchers will also measure fluoride ions in their saliva to determine the levels of fluoride exposure for children in the FV and GI+FV groups.