In the Pacific Northwest, a lot of focus has been directed at whether or not to fluoridate the public water supply. Fluoride treatments are often a part of every cleaning you receive at a Monroe, WA family dentistry, and decades of research show that when used correctly, fluoride greatly strengthens teeth against the effects of decay.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health both credit the addition of fluoride to much of the U.S.’s water supply during the 1940s as a primary reason why the rates of tooth decay have dropped nationwide over the last 50 years.
Despite the track record of success, fluoridation of the public water supply is still a controversial subject in some communities. Advocates against fluoride worry that the mineral could represent a long-term health risk. Cities like Portland have successfully blocked the fluoridation of public water. But happens when you remove fluoride from the water supply?
Canadian researchers have recently completed a study that links cessation of water fluoridation to an increase in cavities. The Calgary based study found that schoolchildren had a higher rate of cavities and tooth decay in their primary teeth following the city’s decision to remove fluoride from the public water supply.
The study examined the prevalence of tooth decay in children in Calgary prior to and after the city stopped fluoridating the water supply in 2011. Researchers also compared decay rates of children in Calgary to those in Edmonton, a city where for decades fluoridation has occurred.
“Trends observed for primary teeth were consistent with an adverse effect of fluoridation cessation on children’s tooth decay, 2.5-3 years postcessation,” wrote researchers. “Trends for permanent teeth hinted at early indication of an adverse effect.”
The results of the study were published in the journal Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology.
Does Fluoridation Make a Difference?
In the study, researchers examined the data collected from children in the 2nd grade in both Edmonton and Calgary. These cities were selected due to being the largest in Alberta, and for their diverse urban centers.
Researchers examined data collected on children during the 2004-2005 school year and also developed their own survey for kids attending the 2013-2014 school year. The data collected consisted of surveys of the two cities from both of these periods.
While researchers examined all primary teeth, they also focused on soft tooth structures due to the fact that the effects of fluoridation cessation are most likely to be evident on those structures.
Researchers discovered a significant increase in tooth decay in primary, or baby, teeth for kids in both Edmonton and Calgary, however, the increased prevalence of tooth decay was greater in Calgary. The increase happened in all teeth, both permanent and primary teeth.
The research team did not find a significant increase in cavities in permanent teeth for kids in Calgary. Researchers suggest this result could be due to the time frame of the study was too short and because permanent teeth have a more resilient structure than primary teeth.
Based on their understanding of the difference in enamel, researchers remain confident that the prevalence of cavities would have increased in permanent teeth given more time.
Additional Research Required
While the early results of the study do seem to suggest the need to keep fluoride as part of the public water supply, researchers do caution that more research is needed. Specifically, researchers want to know if the cessation of fluoridation will impact the resident’s permanent teeth over time.
So as the debate over fluoridation continues, you can feel assured that your Monroe, WA family dentistry will continue to provide the care you require to enjoy a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.