US Preventive Services Task Force reports insufficient evidence for primary care oral health screenings

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force concluded there is not enough evidence to recommend or oppose preventive interventions in primary care for people without symptoms.

The task force was working to determine whether primary care clinicians can complement the work of dental professionals, according to a May 23 news release. The organization looked for evidence on preventing dental caries in children 5 years and older and preventing cavities and periodontal disease in adults.

The task force said in its draft recommendation that more research is needed to determine how primary care professionals can help prevent these issues, particularly for people more likely to experience oral health conditions. More research is also needed on the social factors that contribute to oral health disparities.

The organization instead encouraged healthcare professionals to use their judgment when deciding whether to provide oral health screenings or perform preventive interventions in patients. For children younger than 5 years old, the task force recommends that primary care providers apply fluoride varnish to primary teeth after tooth eruption and prescribe oral fluoride supplements for children with water sources deficient in fluoride. 

The draft recommendations and evidence reviews were posted for public comment and will remain available until June 20.

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