Researchers find no evidence water fluoridation improves or worsens tooth decay and cavities

August 11, 2015

Researchers from the Cochrane Oral Health Group, however, did find data suggesting water fluoridation may reduce cavities in children, although they most of the studies were conducted before widespread adoption of preventive measures such as fluoridated toothpaste and sealants.

 

An independent group of researchers determined no quality evidence proving water fluoridation improves or worsens tooth decay or reduces adult cavities.

Researchers from the Cochrane Oral Health Group, however, did find data suggesting water fluoridation may reduce cavities in children, although they most of the studies were conducted before widespread adoption of preventive measures such as fluoridated toothpaste and sealants.

After reviewing various studies through February 2015, the group identified 155 that compared children consuming natural or artificial fluoridated water to those consuming water with low or no fluoride. Twenty evaluated adult tooth decay, although 71 percent occurred before 1975, and 135 examined adult dental fluorosis.

The researchers reviewed studies for risk of bias by examining the quality of the methods how thoroughly the results were reported. They determined more than 97 percent of the 155 studies on children's fluoridation were at a high risk of bias, skewing the overall quality of the results.

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In addition, the group found the introduction of water fluoridation resulted in a 35 percent reduction in decayed, missing or filled baby teeth and a 26 percent reduction in decayed, missing or filled permanent teeth and improved the percentage of children with no decay by 15 percent.

However, while researchers says this may demonstrate water fluoridation reduces tooth decay in children, the studies were conducted prior to the commonplace use of fluoride toothpastes and other preventative treatments.

The group also determined there was not sufficient information in the studies to determine:

  • Whether introducing water fluoridation changed  differences in tooth decay across socioeconomic groups

  • The effect of stopping water fluoridation on tooth decay

  • The effect of stopping water fluoridation on caries

  • The effect of water fluoridation in preventing tooth decay in adults

For more information on the research and its findings, click here.

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