Press Office


FiCTION aims to find the truth in treating children's tooth decay


Research will reveal which is the best way to treat tooth decay in young children.

The question which is the best way to treat tooth decay in young children may seem simple but it is one which has caused debate among dentists for many years. Now children across Tyneside, Northumberland and County Durham are going to help find the answer.

They are going to be included in 1400 children across the UK for a study which will determine the best approach to treating tooth decay in the under-sevens.

The FiCTION study is led by the Universities of Newcastle, Dundee and Leeds, working with colleagues at the Universities of Cardiff, Glasgow, Sheffield and Queen Mary University of London. It aims to conclusively establish which course of action for managing decay in children’s teeth will give the best outcomes. More than 50 dental practices across the UK have signed up to the study and are now recruiting the young patients.

Common disease
Dental decay is one of the most common childhood diseases, with over 40 per cent of children in the UK already experiencing obvious decay in their baby teeth by five years old, a statistic which has remained largely unchanged for the past 20 years.
Only around 12 per cent of obviously decayed baby teeth in five year olds are treated with fillings, while the vast majority are left untreated, and dental extractions remain the most common reason for children in the UK to receive an out-patient general anaesthetic.

Dr Anne Maguire, from the School of Dental Sciences, Newcastle University who is one of the leaders of the study said: “At the moment only a small proportion of children in the UK receive fillings for decay in their baby teeth – or primary teeth – but what we are seeing is that having decayed teeth removed under general anaesthetic is one of the most common reasons for children to be treated in hospital in the UK.
“There are different approaches to managing decay in baby teeth and the FiCTION study will help establish which approach is best of all. “
The study will examine the benefits of three different methods of managing tooth decay in baby teeth:
•         using only preventive techniques recommended in national guidance (better toothbrushing, less sugar in the diet, application of high fluoride varnish and fissure sealants) to stop the decay.
•         conventional fillings (numbing with dental injections then drilling away decay before placing a filling in the cavity) with preventive techniques
•         biological treatment of the decay (sealing the decay into teeth with filling materials or under crowns, generally without the need to use dental injections or drills) with preventive techniques
The study is also examining what the children, all aged between three and seven, think of the different types of treatments.
Ian Davidson from Whickham Dental Practice said: "Our practice was very happy to get involved in such an important study. The three arms of the study are techniques we all use, as needed, in the treatment of our patients. Hopefully the result of the study will allow dentists to make better informed decisions as to which treatments give the best outcomes."
The FiCTION trial has been commissioned by the National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment (NIHR HTA).

(press release adapted from the FiCTION group)

published on: 19 July 2013