World Dental Association President: Bring Fluoridation to Taiwan
The president of the World Dental Association (WDA) has one word of advice for health officials in Taiwan: fluoride. Wong Ting Chun, a Hong Kong dentist who is WDA’s president, offered her advice this week as oral health data show that Taiwan’s children have rates of tooth decay that are much higher than kids in most countries.
Taipei Times, Taiwan’s most widely read English-language newspaper, shared Wong’s recommendation in a news story about the dental disease that children experience in Taiwan, which lacks a water fluoridation program. The article noted that the average number of decayed, missing and filled teeth — researchers abbreviate this key statistic as “DMFT” — for 12 year-olds in Taiwan is 50% higher than the average worldwide DMFT for children of this age.
Wong said that fortifying water or salt with fluoride would help Taiwan reduce its rate of tooth decay. She pointed out that the most inexpensive form of prevention is fluoridated water. In fact, a variety of studies demonstrate that water fluoridation actually saves money.
Wong said that Hong Kong’s decision in the early 1960s to fluoridate its drinking water was a key factor in the dramatic improvements in dental health that children experienced there.
Yet children aren’t the only people whose teeth stand to benefit from fluoridation. Hsu Ming-lun, president of Taiwan’s Association for Dental Sciences, told Taipei Times that research shows that long-term consumption of fluoridated salt or water can help reduce root caries prevalence among older adults as well.