Tooth decay is the most prevalent chronic condition among children putting them at risk of more extensive damage and other health complications. However, through the use of Caries Management by Risk Assessment (CAMBRA), community health clinics are addressing high risk populations and implementing plans for reducing the risk of decay. Results of CAMBRA were presented recently at the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners Annual Conference.
Risk of Tooth Decay
The study regarding the potential positive effects of CAMBRA was performed in a pediatric community healthcare clinic over the course of a 60 day period. As the clinic sees mostly low income families from diverse backgrounds, there was limited access to dental education and treatment. What the study found from tracking 120 patients was quite telling:
- 90% of the patients were considered at a high risk of tooth decay
- Nearly half of the patients were referred for immediate treatment
- 60% scheduled a follow up dental appointment, but only 32% followed through
Dental professionals were already aware that nearly 40% of children show signs of dental caries as early as the start of kindergarten, and clearly, they are not necessarily receiving the care they need.
The Caries Management by Risk Assessment Model
The CAMBRA model places patients into four categories of risk including low, medium, high, or extreme. These risk factors are defined by an assessment of the parent's and the child's teeth, habits, and access to dental care. As an example, if both parent and child have relatively healthy teeth, practice regular dental hygiene, and limit access to sweets and acidic foods, then they are ranked as being at low risk of decay.
Dental professionals hope that early assessment, classification, and education will help encourage better dental hygiene practices and follow up care. Preventative care is more cost effective and can reduce the incidence of pain and extensive procedures as tooth decay progresses.