Study: Fluoride in Water Has More Benefits than Free Dental Care

Posted & filed under Children's Oral Health and Fluoride, Fluoride and Public Health, Health Equity.

A new study has linked community water fluoridation (CWF) in Israel with lower rates of tooth decay. The authors found no link between decay and the effects of free dental services which were mandated in 2014. When Israel adopted nationwide water fluoridation in 2002, tooth decay among children fell significantly. The practice was discontinued in 2014, a few years after an Israeli switched to free dental care for all children and teens under the of age 18. This was intended to make up for the anticipated cessation of water fluoridation.

To assess long-term tooth decay trends, the authors of this nine-year study collected dental health data of more than 34,000 young adults. After delivering their analysis, the researchers concluded, “we suggest that water fluoridation should be continued”. This would help restore the rate of children’s tooth decay to the lower levels they previously experienced. Together with free dental care, water in fluoride benefits children by preventing significant amounts of decay, ultimately requiring less treatment.

Opponents of water fluoridation in the U.S. sometimes argue that CWF would not be needed if children simply had better access to dental care. This new study refutes that. The authors added that water fluoridation “is particularly important to people of low socioeconomic status” who are at higher risk of dental disease.

This study is not the first Israeli research paper to affirm the benefits of fluoridation. A 2015 study found that children in non-fluoridated Israeli communities were more than twice as likely to be hospitalized for dental infections.

Tooth decay is almost completely preventable in children and people of all ages. High quality research has repeatedly demonstrated the efficacy of CWF in reducing tooth decay and averting the needless pain and complex treatment that children now experience. Prevention in one of the primary tenets of public health. It is an achievable goal, one that children everywhere deserve.