The aim of the present study was to evaluate and compare the effects of an intensive and a monthly mode of antibacterial varnish application on the levels of mutans streptococci (MS) in interdental plaque and whole saliva. Eighty-eight healthy schoolchildren (11–13 years) with high scores of salivary MS were selected by a screening procedure and randomised into two groups. MS were enumerated at all mesial interdental sites of the first permanent molars with the aid of a modified chair-side technique, disclosing a total of 161 sites with moderate or high colonisation levels. The subjects were treated with a 1% chlorhexidine-thymol-containing varnish (Cervitec®) either in an intensive mode (MM) with 3 applications within a 2-week period or in a monthly mode (IM) during a 3-onth period. The varnish was applied with a miniball burnisher after the teeth had been cleaned interdentally with dental floss and dried with air. Follow-up samples of saliva and plaque from the interdental areas were collected after 1, 3 and 6 months. Both groups exhibited a statistically significant (p < 0.05) reduction of interdental MS after 1 month when compared with baseline. An eliminated MS growth appeared more frequently following the IM compared with the MM. After 3 months, a significant reduction compared with baseline was still found in the IM group but not in the MM group. No reduction was found in either group after 6 months. MS levels in saliva were mainly unaffected at the follow-up samplings, with the exception of a slight reduction in the IM group after 1 month. In conclusion, the results suggest that an intensive mode of chlorhexidine-thymol varnish application is more effective against interdental MS than the monthly mode of application. Bacterial growth should be monitored in a site-specific way, since interdental reductions were not adequately reflected in whole saliva samples.

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