Fluoride in Water Prevents Adult Tooth Loss

Release Date: August 24, 2010 | By David Pittman, Contributing Writer
Research Source:

Children drinking water with added fluoride helps dental health in adulthood decades later, a new study finds. In an article appearing in the October issue of the American Journal of Public Health, Matthew Neidell reports a strong relationship between fluoride levels in a resident’s county at the time of their birth with tooth loss as an adult. “Your fluoridation exposure at birth is affecting your tooth loss in your 40s and 50s, regardless of what your fluoridation exposure was like when you were 20 and 30 years old,” said Neidell, a health policy professor at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. He combined data from a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention community health study and a water census to see the impact of drinking fluoridated water in the 1950s and 1960s on tooth loss in the 1990s. “We know that the benefits of fluoridation are greatest from birth,” said Howard Pollick, a professor of clinical dentistry at the University of California, San Francisco. “This recent study adds credence to that.” For children whose adult teeth haven’t shown yet, fluoride still improves tooth enamel, the highly mineralized tissue on teeth’s surface. Fluoride also helps teeth damaged from the decay process and breaks down bacteria on teeth. The researchers write that respondents who did not live in the same county their entire lives received differing amounts of fluoride in their water, which complicated study findings. The study, which focused on tooth loss as an indication of overall oral health, could not adjust for factors such as use of toothpaste, which also provides a dose of fluoride. Pollick said that roughly 75 percent of people served by public water systems have fluoride added. The process uses small amounts of the naturally occurring mineral to increase concentrations to no more than one part per million typically. The American Dental Association, which has supported fluoridation of community water since 1950, says scientists continue to show adding the mineral to water is safe and aids tooth health. One 2007 study of Kaiser Permanente HMO members found that adults benefitted from community fluoridation more than children. Pollick pointed to a study of Medicaid dental patients in Louisiana, which showed that for every $1 invested in water fluoridation, the state saw $38 in reduced dental costs. To prevent tooth decay, Pollick recommends also brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and reducing sugar levels in diet. # # # FOR MORE INFORMATION: Reach the Health Behavior News Service, part of the Center for Advancing Health, at (202) 387-2829 or [email protected] The American Journal of Public Health is the monthly journal of the American Public Health Association. Visit www.apha.org for more information. Complimentary online access to the journal is available to credentialed members of the media. Contact Patricia Warin at APHA, (202) 777-2511 [email protected] Neidell, M, Herzog K, . The association between community water fluoridation and adult tooth loss. Am J Public Health 100(10), 2010.

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nyscof says
August 24, 2010 at 8:14 AM

Studies show that ingesting fluoride does not reduce tooth decay. The most toothless Americans live in the most highly fluoridated states

In 1999, 24.4% of Americans over 65 were reported edentulous by the
Centers for Disease Control, ranging from a low of 14% in Hawaii (9%
fluoridated) to, the highest, 48% in West Virginia (87% fluoridated).

Russell says
August 30, 2010 at 12:08 PM

1999 Americans over 65 would have been born in 1934 or earlier. Fluoridation didn't start in the US until 1945, and not really nationwide until the 50's. Since this study is about fluoridation at birth the 1999 CDC study isn't relevent.

andrew hall says
September 6, 2010 at 2:30 AM

West Virginia is a poor state with populations eating large amounts of high sugar foods and little access to dentists.

andrew hall says
September 6, 2010 at 2:32 AM

West Virginia is a poor state with populations eating large amounts of high sugar foods and little access to dentists.

Jake says
December 1, 2011 at 10:36 AM

The first statement made by NYSCOF (above) is simply shattered by the evidence. In 2002, an independent, 15-member panel of highly respected researchers was appointed to review studies on health prevention in oral health and other areas. They reviewed dozens of studies on fluoridation and even disregarded some that they felt had insufficient samples or other limitations. In the end, they examined 21 studies and found that water fluoridation reduced tooth decay by a median rate of 29%. NYSCOF must have ignored or overlooked this panel's conclusion: http://www.thecommunityguide.org/oral/fluoridation.html

June 1, 2012 at 1:43 PM

--- “In the present study, fluoridated water did not seem to have a positive effect on dental health, as it might have been expected in a community with the respective caries prevalence.” SOURCE: Meyer-Lueckel H, et al. (2006). Caries and fluorosis in 6- and 9-year-old children residing in three communities in Iran. Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology 34:63-70.
---"Higher fluoride proportions appeared to be associated with lower dfs + DFS, with an estimated difference between fluoridated and non-fluoridated groups of 0.65 decayed or filled surfaces per child, but this association was not statistically significant. The effects of fluoridation on the other outcomes were small and not statistically significant."
SOURCE: Domoto P, et al. (1996). The estimation of caries prevalence in small areas. Journal of Dental Research 75:1947-56.
---"Data from Head Start surveys show the prevalence of baby bottle tooth decay is about three times the national average among poor urban children, even in communities with a fluoridated water supply." SOURCE: Von Burg MM et al. (1995). Baby Bottle Tooth Decay: A Concern for All Mothers. Pediatric Nursing 21: 515-519.
---“An analysis of national survey data collected by the National Institute of Dental Research (NIDR) concludes that children who live in areas of the U.S. where the water supplies are fluoridated have tooth decay rates nearly identical with those who live in nonfluoridated areas." SOURCE: Hileman, B. (1989). New Studies Cast Doubt on Fluoridation Benefits. Chemical & Engineering News. May 8. (See article)
---"We found that caries prevalence do vary between the geochemical regions of the state. In the total sample, however, there were no significant differences between those children drinking optimally fluoridated water and those drinking suboptimally fluoridated water." SOURCE: Hildebolt CF, et al. (1989). Caries prevalences among geochemical regions of Missouri. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 78:79-92

-- "For children's dental health measures, it was found that fluoridation rates were not significantly related to the measures of either caries or overall condition of the teeth for urban or rural areas." (West Virginia University Rural Health Research Center, 2012)

-- The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 91% of rural Alaskan Native adolescents have cavities whether their water is fluoridated or not

Marie Yu says
June 4, 2012 at 12:15 AM


Mikaeli says
June 4, 2012 at 2:09 AM


Mikaeli says
June 4, 2012 at 2:09 AM


Shernon says
June 4, 2012 at 2:10 AM

Nice Ive been looking for this