Key Points

  • Fluoridation of water supplies reduces the number of decayed, missing and filled teeth in children and adults.
  • As a result of fluoridation, children experience less toothache, have fewer dental abscesses and require fewer dental extractions and general anaesthetics.
  • The cost to the NHS of treating avoidable disease is therefore reduced.
  • While tooth decay levels have fallen in both fluoridated and non-fluoridated communities in recent years, inequalities in dental health remain wide.
  • There is still a strong case for extending fluoridation on a targeted basis in those parts of the UK with persistently high tooth decay levels among children, particularly in the North of England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and inner London.

One in a Million

Our One in a Million online database includes a comprehensive section on the dental benefits of water fluoridation.

Summary of Data Published Post 2012/2013

  • Two new systematic reviews (Iheozor-Ejiofor 2015; Jack et al, 2016; NHMRC, 2017a; 2017b) confirm once again the effectiveness of community water fluoridation in reducing dental decay. However, disappointment was expressed that the Cochrane review (Iheozor-Ejiofor 2015) used rather restrictive inclusion criteria (CDC 2015; Rugg-Gunn et al 2016). An opportunity lost.
  • An additional review (McClaren and Singhal 2016) concluded that, “overall, the published research points more to an increase in dental caries post community water fluoridation cessation than otherwise”. 
  • Blinkhorn et al (2015) presented data evaluating the effectiveness of a new fluoridation scheme in New South Wales, contrasting the dental health of 5 to 7- year-old children in the newly fluoridated area against those living in positive and negative control areas. 
  • Recent and large-scale monitoring studies in the US, UK, Australia and Brazil (Slade et al, 2018; PHE, 2014; PHE,2018; Spencer et al 2018; Firmino et al, 2018) confirm the continuing importance of community water fluoridation
  • Further evidence has accumulated that community water fluoridation narrows the unacceptable social inequalities seen in children’s dental health (Cho,2014; Do et al 2018; PHE 2018; Weston-Price et al 2018).
  • And in particular data from the UK, New Zealand and Israel (PHE 2018; Hobbs 2020; Kivitsky et al 2015) show how community water fluoridation dramatically reduces the numbers of young children from the most deprived backgrounds being admitted to hospital for dental extractions.