An oral health care programme in secondary schools using the atraumatic restorative treatment (ART) technique for dental caries was started in 1993. Glass-ionomer was used as the restorative and sealant material. Sealants were placed using the ‘press finger’ technique. Results after 1 year revealed a survival percentage for one-surface ART restorations of 93.4 whilst the complete and partial retention percentages for sealants were 60.3 and 13.4, respectively. No caries was observed in teeth restored using ART, and only 0.8% of surfaces diagnosed as having early enamel lesions at the start of the programme and sealed consequently had progressed into active dentinal lesions after 1 year. The sealant retention percentage and the survival percentage of ART restorations were influenced by an operator effect. The majority of restorations were carried out without administering local anaesthesia. The mean treatment time for one-surface ART restorations was 22.1 min (range per operator of 19.8–23.6 min), whilst the mean time for placing sealants was 9.4 min (range per operator of 8.2–10.8 min). Post-operative sensitivity was reported for 6% of the teeth restored. 95% of the students were satisfied with ART as a treatment modality. It is concluded that ART may in part be the answer to the unavailability of restorative care for many population groups globally.

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