Lifelong Fluoride Exposure Can Reduce Cavities in Children
Research presented at the American Public Health Association annual meeting in 2019 shows that lifetime exposure to fluoride can be effective to reduce dental cavities in the permanent teeth of teenagers and older children.
The Tohoku University Graduate School of Dentistry in Nagasaki, Japan, conducted research into dental cavities. Go Matsuo, the BDS/MPH of the university, found that there were large socioeconomic disparities in terms of the prevalence of dental cavities in the permanent teeth of students tested in North Carolina.
Community Water Fluoridation is Effective at Reducing Dental Cavities
Go Matsuo noted that community water fluoridation is effective to reduce dental cavities and that there has been a great decline in cavities due to this water treatment. There are still inequalities in the U.S. exposure to all could be helpful as a way of reducing that gap.
The study, which should be published before the end of 2019, examined water fluoridation and dental cavities in the permanent teeth of students in North Carolina between the ages of 10 and 19. Researchers used the 2003-2004 data from the North Carolina Oral Health Section’s dental survey, which collected data statewide and included around 4,400 students.
The data was used to compare exposure to communities with water fluoridation, cavities, and also looked at whether parental education levels impacted on dental health. It was found that the greater the exposure to community water fluoridation, the lower the prevalence of cavities.
Children Had a Lifetime Exposure to Fluoride via Their Water supplies
Family education had a little impact on cavities. However, if a child was not exposed to fluoride throughout their entire lives, then the educational attainment of their parents did have an impact. Children with a parent who had graduated from college were likely to have 1.78 teeth with cavities. Children whose parents did not graduate from college were predicted to have 3.1 teeth with cavities.
There may be some limitations to the study, such as cross-sectional data and the risk of recall bias, and there are many potential variables that have not been included in the study, as Dr. Matsuo notes himself. However, it does appear that taking an upstream approach to oral health and focusing on issues such as community water fluoridation as a starting point, could be a public health investment with a lot of lasting impacts.
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