In 1972 the results of a study of the long term effect of dental care for youths in the Netherlands, a programme which was then still called ‘school dental care’, were published. In the study a comparison was made between military recruits from municipalities with school dental care and those from municipalities without it. Results were measured most importantly in two areas, ‘dental health’ and ‘habits of dental care’, variables in which a number of dental and behavioural characteristics were combined. Between the groups of recruits only marginal differences were found. This result was unexpected because previous research had indicated that in the case of primary school students there was much less untreated caries if school dental care was available in a municipality. Subsequent research revealed that the level of care of caries lesions in the teeth of children who were registered with an institution for dental care for youths, was generally higher than that of children who were treated by a general health practitioner. The level of care was especially high among children who were treated by specialists in child dental care. The fact that most institutions for dental care for youths make use of treatment protocols seems to be an important reason for this result. The fact that most of the children who participated in a dental care for youths programme differed in socio-economic status from those who received care from a general dental practitioner meant that the extra caries-preventive effect of dental care for youths could not easily be established.