19 Oct

New study highlights ‘unquestionable’ efficacy of fluoride in reducing decay risk

A new study suggests that fluoride is “unquestionably effective” in reducing the risk of tooth decay in children. 

Research published in the Journal of Dental Research shows that fluoridated water lowers the risk of decay without impacting emotional and behavioural development negatively. 

A research team estimated the percent lifetime exposed to fluoridated water (LEFW) of children from birth to the age of 5 based on location. Calculations were made according to children’s residential history and fluoride levels in different postcodes. Participants in the study who were aged 5-10 when tracking began were contacted between 7 and 8 years later before they celebrated their 18th birthdays. 

A separate survey, the Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), was used to analyse and evaluate behavioural and emotional development. The Behaviour Inventory of Executive Functioning (BRIEF) was employed to assess executive functioning, which is a set of processes used to control behaviour. Researchers found that there was no relationship between fluoride exposure and changes in behavioural and emotional development. 

Brian O’Connell, dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at Trinity College, Dublin and president of the International Association for Dental Research (IADR), said that the study was an “important addition to the body of literature documenting the safety of water fluoridation.”

Mr O’Connell added that the IADR supports water fluoridation as a “public health measure” that has a “high benefit/cost ratio and benefits deprived communities the most.” Fluoridated water, he explained is an effective means of “reducing health inequalities.”

Tooth decay is the leading cause of hospital admissions among children across the UK, despite the fact that most cases are preventable. The best ways to lower the risk of decay include twice-daily brushing, avoiding snacking and moderating sugar consumption and attending regular routine check-ups. Preventative treatments, including fluoride varnish and sealants, can also help to protect the teeth.