Even Small Gains Improve Dental Health
Can even a small increase in the population reached by community water fluoridation (CWF) have a positive health impact? The answer is yes, according to a new U.S. study. The researchers report that cavity-related dental visits for low-income children are lower in counties that provide CWF to more families.
The study examined Medicaid claims for children ages 0-9 who lived in 436 counties within five states: Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts and Texas. The study was published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Network Open. The researchers wrote that every 10% increase “in the proportion of the population’s access to CWF was associated with a decrease in the prevalence of caries-related visits.
The researchers also found a link between low-income children’s access to CWF and lower prevalence of dental surgery under general anesthesia (DGA), writing that DGA may serve as a proxy for severe forms of early childhood caries—extensive decay among preschool-age children. However, this link did not appear in an adjusted analysis.
Researchers and health professionals alike, including pediatricians, welcome emerging studies on all aspects of fluoride and community water fluoridation. This study highlights some of the clear benefits of community water fluoridation to children, families, and the health system at large.