New scientific evidence for the effectiveness of community water fluoridation (CWF) is appearing all the time. So that is hardly news – but I just thought it worth mentioning this latest example from Korea because I get told again and again that there is no evidence to show CWF is effective in improving oral health.
This latest Korean study was reported in this paper :
Jung, J., Kim, J., Kim, S., Lee, J., Kim, J., & Jeong, S. (2016). Caries-preventing effects of a suburban community water fluoridation program on permanent dentition after adjusting for the number of fissure-sealed teeth. Journal of Korean Academy of Oral Health, 40(1), 61–68.
The full text is available but only the abstract and tables are in English.
The study compares children from the fluoridated Habcheon township area with children from non-fluoridated areas.
The graphic below compares dental caries on permanent teeth for the different age groups. Clearly, children in the non-fluoridated areas have poorer dental health.
On average, the data indicates fluoridation is responsible for prevention of 24.6% of decayed, missing and filled permanent teeth (DMFT) and 29.9% of decayed missing and filled tooth surfaces (DMFS) (a more sensitive measure than DMFT).
This result is very recent but not at all surprising. Similar results have been reported before.
For example – this paper reported prevention of 27.5% of decayed, missing and filled permanent teeth (DMFT) and 24% f decayed missing and filled tooth surfaces (DMFS) for 12-year-old children in Gimhae.
Kim, H., Cho, H., Kim, M., Jun, E., Han, D., Jeong, S., & Kim, J. (2014). Caries Prevention Effect of Water Fluoridation in Gimhae , Korea. J Dent Hyg Sci, 14(4), 448–454.
Again this is full text but only the abstract and tables are in English.
There are more studies reporting a similar effectiveness of CWF in Korea.
These authors are recommending that CWF, which covers only 6% of the population in the republic of Korea, should be extended to other regions in the country.
CWF has been controversial in the Republic of Korea. Health authorities are promoting the extension of CWF but this is opposed by some groups. Surveys show the majority of people whose children have good oral health, who are aware of fluoridation programmes or who understand the protective role of fluoride support extension of CWF. But support is much less among people who are a=unaware of the benefits or whose children have poor oral health.
So, while health authorities support the extension of CWF they also accept there is a need for more public education about the benefits.