GUIDANCE: Prevention and Management of Dental Caries in Children

The multi-factorial nature of dental caries and its association with low socio-economic status contribute to the perception that dental caries is an intractable problem.

However, there are effective, evidence-based strategies for the prevention of dental caries and for managing the disease if it does occur.

To date, dental care for children in Scotland has tended to focus on the treatment of disease. Many children’s first experience of dental services has been for the management of pain or sepsis associated with dental caries. 

While some children will continue to present late with established caries, the importance of contact with dental services at an early age with an emphasis on primary prevention is now well recognised.

This philosophy is in keeping with a shift in the focus of modern healthcare from acute management to prevention, early identification and early intervention.

Childsmile is a national programme for improving children’s oral health in Scotland (see Appendix 2 and

It is being developed to deliver multidisciplinary primary caries prevention, anticipatory care and appropriate management of caries via NHS dental services and other settings.

Childsmile, therefore, provides a mechanism for supporting many of the recommendations set out in this guidance.

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