Study finds lower dental health inequalities in fluoridated Newcastle than in non-fluoridated Manchester

A study of children aged 11 to 13 (published in 2012) found lower levels of tooth decay in fluoridated Newcastle upon Tyne than in non-fluoridated Manchester (1).

The study found that, on average, 11-13-year olds in five social groups in Newcastle (from the most affluent to the least affluent) had fewer teeth affected by early or advanced decay than those from the equivalent group in Manchester.  However, the difference between children from the most affluent groups in the two cities was not statistically significant.

The difference in the number of decayed teeth between children from the most and least affluent groups in Manchester was greater than the difference between children from the most and least affluent groups in Newcastle.

More children in each of the five social groups in Newcastle were decay-free than in the equivalent group from Manchester.

Average number of decayed, missing and filled teeth per 100 children aged 11 to 13 in each of five levels of deprivation
Figures based on clinical examinations of children’s teeth

FLUORIDATED NEWCASTLE

From least to most deprived            Average number of decayed, missing and filled teeth

Group 1 (least deprived)                      189 teeth affected per 100 children aged 11-13

Group 2            `                                   234 teeth affected per 100 children aged 11-13

Group 3                                                325 teeth affected per 100 children aged 11-13

Group 4                                                361 teeth affected per 100 children aged 11-13

Group 5 (most deprived)                      380 teeth affected per 100 children aged 11-13

NON-FLUORIDATED MANCHESTER

From least to most deprived              Decayed, missing and filled teeth

Group 1 (least deprived)                        254 teeth affected per 100 children aged 11-13

Group 2             `                                   356 teeth affected per 100 children aged 11-13

Group 3                                                 441 teeth affected per 100 children aged 11-13

Group 4                                                 573 teeth affected per 100 children aged 11-13

Group 5 (most deprived)                       576 teeth affected per 100 children aged 11-13

The above figures show that the difference in dental health between the most and least deprived children is greater in non-fluoridated Manchester than it is in fluoridated Newcastle.

They also show that at every level of relative deprivation or affluence, 12-year old children in fluoridated Newcastle have less tooth decay than their counterparts in non-fluoridated Manchester.

The most deprived 12-year olds from fluoridated Newcastle have 34% fewer decayed, missing and filled teeth than their counterparts from non-fluoridated Manchester.

The least deprived 12-year olds from fluoridated Newcastle have 26% fewer decayed, missing and filled teeth than their counterparts from non-fluoridated Manchester.

1. McGrady MG, Ellwood RP, Maguire A, Goodwin M, Boothman N (2012): The association between social deprivation and the prevalence and severity of dental caries and fluorosis in populations with and without water fluoridation.  BMC Public Health 12:1122.

QUOTES FROM NEWCASTLE v MANCHESTER STUDY

Reducing inequalities in dental health

“The results support the existing evidence from other studies conducted in the UK that water fluoridation reduces inequalities in health by reducing the social gradient between deprivation and dental caries.”

Greater impact than use of toothpaste alone

“This study supports the existing evidence showing the use of water fluoridation and fluoridated dentifrice has a greater impact on caries levels than the use of fluoridated dentifrice alone.”