What happens to teeth in case of drinking water that is not fluoridated

November 19, 2022  19:03

In 2007, residents of Juneau, Alaska's capital city, voted to stop adding fluoride to drinking water for fear of possible harm. Researchers at the University of Alaska Anchorage tracked the consequences. The results are published in BMC Oral Health.

The study evaluated state Medicaid health insurance data from two groups of children and adolescents aged 18 and younger.

The first group consisted of 853 patients who received dental caries treatment in 2003. They were under "optimal conditions" when the drinking water was fluoridated. The second group, 1,052 patients, were treated for tooth decay in 2012 under "unfavorable conditions" (five years after fluoridation was stopped).

The researchers determined that children under the age of 6 in the first group averaged 1.55 cavities and their effects treated per year, while in the second group the figure rose to 2.52. That is, the children went to the dentist one more time per year after fluoridation was discontinued.

In children and adolescents older than 6 years, the effect was less pronounced. The researchers hypothesized that the partial protection associated with fluoride exposure to tooth enamel at an early age (before the 2007 ban) had an effect.

"The study shows that without optimal levels of fluoride in drinking water and, therefore, in the mouth and saliva, teeth can form with weaker enamel and are unable to remineralize early signs of damage," the researchers explained.

The results prove that even with fluoride toothpaste, rinses and professional caries prevention, water fluoridation has a therapeutic and preventive effect on the population.

The cost of a fluoridation program, which is actually to fluoridate the water, is pennies compared to the cost of cavity treatment, summarized Jennifer Meyer, lead author of the study.

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