It’s not a big secret that fluoride in drinking water has caused a lot of controversy. Depending on who you talk to it’s either the biggest health innovation for public use in centuries or it’s a dire scheme to poison the water supply. Some people equate fluoride in drinking water to just plain contamination.
In 1974, Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act which then led to a massive campaign to start fluoridating water for public use. From just about then on, the debate on whether or not it’s a good idea has raged on.
However, when you really examine it, there is a lot of hard science to back up the claims. Take, for instance, a new study conducted by the researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Adelaide, Australia. The study has produced the strongest and most conclusive evidence to date that fluoride in drinking water provides dental health benefits to adults.
This even holds true for those who didn’t get fluoridated drinking water as children. Usually when you hear about fluoride, it’s in the context of health benefits for children, so it’s interesting to hear more about fluoride’s benefits for adults.
The study was led by UNC School of Dentistry faculty member, Gary Slade, who recently made this statement about the study: “It was once thought that fluoridated drinking water only benefited children who consumed it from birth. Now we show that fluoridated water reduces tooth decay in adults, even if they start drinking it after childhood. In public health terms, it means that more people benefit from water fluoridation than previously thought.”
The researchers analyzed national survey data from 3,779 adults age 15 and older, picked at random from the population of Australia between 2004 and 2006. First, they measured their levels of tooth decay. The study participants reported where they lived since 1964 and the residential histories of the participants where matched to available information about fluoride levels in community water. Then, it was just a matter of comparing their levels of tooth decay with each participant’s exposure to fluoride. The results showed that adults who spent more than 75% of their lifetime living in fluoridated areas had up to 30% less tooth decay compared to adults who had no exposure. It’s hard to argue with basic math.
If you have any more questions about fluoride, ask your Austin cosmetic dentist, Dr. Dan Matthews at your next appointment. Sometimes it’s best to just go straight to the experts.