Maternal counselling using a motivational-interviewing approach reduced caries in indigenous children


The aim of this trial was to test the use of motivational interviewing (MI) as an approach to control caries in indigenous children. This cluster-randomised trial was conducted in Cree communities in Quebec.

Cree women who recently had given birth or were between the 12th and 34th weeks of pregnancy were recruited. Mothers allocated to the test group were to attend one counseling session during pregnancy and up to 6 more sessions postnatally until their child’s second birthday. Two different MI scripts were available for pregnant and new mothers and who those whose children had experience tooth eruption. Mothers from test communities also received a “Privilege Card” to expedite dental care. Mothers in the control group only received educational pamphlets. Mothers, interveners and examiners were blinded to the allocation.

  • 272 mothers (131 test, 141 control) were recruited with 241 children (110 test, 131 control) being available for examination at follow-up
  • Caries prevalence in the control group was 76% (100/131) compared with 65% (72/110) in the treatment group( p = 0.17).
  • Exploratory analyses suggested a substantial preventive effect for untreated decay at or beyond the level of the dentin, d3 (prevalences: 60% controls vs. 35% test), and a particularly large treatment effect when mothers had 4 or more MI-style sessions.

The authors concluded

Overall, these results provide preliminary evidence that, for these young, indigenous children, an MI-style intervention has an impact on severity of caries.


Harrison R.L., Veronneau J.  Leroux
 B. Effectiveness of Maternal Counseling in Reducing Caries in Cree Children. J Dent Res published online 13 September 2012 DOI: 10.1177/002203451245975

Harrison R, Veronneau J, Leroux B. Design and implementation of a dental caries prevention trial in remote Canadian Aboriginal communities. Trials. 2010 May 13;11:54. PubMed PMID: 20465831; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2887856.



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