A new primary dental care service compared with standard care for child and family to reduce the re-occurrence of childhood dental caries (Dental RECUR): study protocol for a randomised controlled trial

Cynthia Pine, Pauline Adair, Girvan Burnside, Louise Robinson, Rhiannon Tudor Edwards, Sondos Albadri, Morag Curnow, Marjan Ghahreman, Mary Henderson, Clare Malies, Ferranti Wong, Vanessa Muirhead, Sally Weston-Price, Hilary Whitehead

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Background: In England and Scotland, dental extraction is the single highest cause of planned admission to the hospital for children under 11 years. Traditional dental services have had limited success in reducing this disease burden. Interventions based on motivational interviewing have been shown to impact positively dental health behaviours and could facilitate the prevention of re-occurrence of dental caries in this high-risk population. The objective of the study is to evaluate whether a new, dental nurse-led service, delivered using a brief negotiated interview based on motivational interviewing, is a more cost-effective service than treatment as usual, in reducing the re-occurrence of dental decay in young children with previous dental extractions.

Methods/Design: This 2-year, two-arm, multicentre, randomised controlled trial will include 224 child participants, initially aged 5 to 7 years, who are scheduled to have one or more primary teeth extracted for dental caries under general anaesthesia (GA), relative analgesia (RA: inhalation sedation) or local anaesthesia (LA). The trial will be conducted in University Dental Hospitals, Secondary Care Centres or other providers of dental extraction services across the United Kingdom. The intervention will include a brief negotiated interview (based on the principles of motivational interviewing) delivered between enrolment and 6 weeks post-extraction, followed by directed prevention in primary dental care. Participants will be followed up for 2 years. The main outcome measure will be the dental caries experienced by 2 years post-enrolment at the level of dentine involvement on any tooth in either dentition, which had been caries-free at the baseline assessment.

Discussion: The participants are a hard-to-reach group in which secondary prevention is a challenge. Lack of engagement with dental care makes the children and their families scheduled for extraction particularly difficult to recruit to an RCT. Variations in service delivery between sites have also added to the challenges in implementing the Dental RECUR protocol during the recruitment phase.

Trial registration: ISRCTN24958829 (date of registration: 27 September 2013), Current protocol version: 5.0.
Original languageEnglish
Article number505
Number of pages8
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 4 Nov 2015


  • primary dental care
  • dental
  • childhood dental
  • caries prevention
  • children
  • post-extraction
  • Caries

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