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Seal or Varnish Study

Despite the decline in the prevalence of dental decay in the United Kingdom in the last three decades, 57% of 15 year-olds still have dental caries (tooth decay) sufficiently severe to require a filling or extraction. Dental caries is uneven in its distribution in the population and has been shown by numerous studies to be closely linked to socioeconomic deprivation, with a three-fold difference in disease burden from most to least deprived. Within the mouth, the majority of detected incremental decay is to be found on the pit and fissure surfaces of molar teeth in children and adults.

These facts indicate the need for caries-prevention technology, targeted at the most susceptible tooth surfaces in the most susceptible members of the population. Two competing technologies have the potential to fulfil this role, pit and fissure sealants and fluoride varnishes.

'Seal or Varnish' is an individually randomised, assessor-blinded, two arm, parallel group trial that aims to identify and compare the relative clinical and cost effectiveness of pit and fissure sealant (PFS) and fluoride varnish (FV) for the prevention of dental caries in first permanent molar teeth in 6-7 year old school children.

Study Type

Randomised Controlled Trial (IMP)

Funder Name




Lead Investigator

Professor Ivor Chestnutt

Key data

Start date
April 1, 2011
End date
March 31, 2016
Grant value

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