Study finds that fluoride in water can reduce tooth decay in baby teeth by 30%

Key words: Fluoride, fluoridation of water, drinking water, World Health Organisation, primary prevention, tooth decay, dental caries, baby teeth

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Fluoridation of the water is often misunderstood. A lot of people go on about ‘adding’ fluoride to the water, but fluoride is a naturally occurring salt that is in most spring systems. Some areas contain more and some less (for example, in the Riverina, water supply to the town of Holbrook has a natural fluoride content that meets the desired level. Other areas require additions by Riverina Water to bring it in line).

The World Health Organisation considers the regulation of fluoride as one of the top health initiatives of the 20th century. Why? Studies have shown that a little bit of fluoride prevents tooth decay. This is not new.  However, the body of literature available is continually growing and research is focusing on measuring exactly what the effect on tooth decay is.  A recent study by Slade and others found that:

  • In children, appropriate levels of fluoride in water (whether naturally occurring or added) decreases tooth decay rates in baby teeth by a whopping 30%; and

  • When the adult teeth come through, fluoride in water reduces the rate of tooth decay by 12%.

So what do we take away from this study? Have your children drink tap water. It is one of the safest and cheapest ways to optimise their dental health. If you’re in an area that is non-fluoridated, check in with your dentist who can advise on the most appropriate way to provide the tooth protection that fluoride offers. Prevention is key!

If you’re interested in the study, check it out here https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0022034518774331