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Several community dental hygienists conducted a five-year study on dental caries incidence rates in permanent teeth of school-age children. The study compared incidence rates of dental caries in students who received sealants and routine professional fluoride treatments to those students who received professional fluoride treatments only. The study was conducted at a public school district whose population was 5,000 students in grades K-12. At the beginning of the study, no schools in the district had fluoridated water, and fewer than 20% of the children attending these public schools had sealants. To decrease the number of subjects involved in the study, a sample was taken from the 5,000 students; however, students who did not have their permanent first molars could not participate. When those students without permanent first molars were eliminated, the remaining students were randomly selected from each grade level and classroom. The sample size then consisted of 2,000 students K-12. The sample was then further divided into two groups: Group 1 received sealants at the start of the study and fluoride treatments every 6 months for 5 years. Group 2 received only fluoride treatments every 6 months for 5 years. In addition, dental caries and plaque accumulation indexes were performed on both groups. A mean plaque index score of 2.6 (based on a 3.0 scale) was recorded for both Group 1 and Group 2, and at the end of the 5 years, the plaque index for Group 1 was 2.0 and for Group 2 was 2.3. There was high interrater reliability among the community dental hygienists.
What type of research study did the dental hygienists conduct?
A. Historical
B. Experimental
C. Cross-sectional
D. Descriptive