US systematic review of the benefits of water fluoridation for adults (2007)

In 2007, a US research team led by Dr Susan Griffiths from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention completed a systematic review of previously conducted studies that had explored the effectiveness of water fluoridation in preventing tooth decay in adults (1).

Comparing the dental health of adults who have always lived in fluoridated or non-fluoridated areas

After analysing data from seven studies, the US team calculated that adults who had lived all their lives in fluoridated communities had, on average, 34.7% fewer teeth decayed, missing and filled than those who had lived all their lives in non-fluoridated communities.

A further analysis of five studies completed after 1979 found that, on average, the number of decayed, missing and filled teeth was reduced by 27.2% among adults who had been lifelong residents in fluoridated areas.

Importance of helping adults who are living longer to keep their teeth healthy throughout life

As Dr Griffiths and her co-authors point out, preventing tooth decay in adults is becoming more important today because they are more likely to retain their teeth longer than people of previous generations and they are also more likely to live longer than their predecessors used to.  It means there are more at-risk teeth to be protected, making population-based efforts at prevention even more important.

1. Griffin SO, Regnier E, Griffin PM, Huntley V (2007): Effectiveness of fluoride in preventing caries in adults. Journal of Dental Research, 86: 410-415.

TOOTH DECAY DOWN

Adults who had lived all their lives
in fluoridated areas had between
27% and 35% fewer decayed,
missing and filled teeth than
adults who had lived all their lives
in non-fluoridated areas.