Analysis of post-1990 studies
Rugg-Gunn and Loc Do (2012) analysed 59 studies published between 1990 and 2010 and found that, on average, fluoridation reduces tooth decay in primary teeth by between 30% and 59% and in permanent teeth by between 40% and 49%.
New Zealand Royal Society report
A report by the Royal Society of New Zealand and the Office of the New Zealand Government’s Chief Science Adviser (2014) identified significant differences in tooth decay rates between fluoridated and non-fluoridated areas in New Zealand, with children from socially disadvantaged groups enjoying the biggest dental benefits.
Public Health England report
A Public Health England analysis (2014) of studies of 5 and 12-year old children’s teeth across England found lower rates of tooth decay in fluoridated areas, more children without decay and lower rates for admissions to hospital for tooth extractions under a general anaesthetic.
Medical Research Council report
This MRC analysis (2000) looked at a wider range of studies than those covered in the York systematic review published in 2000. The MRC concluded that water fluoridation reduces the amount of toothache suffered by children, reduces their risk of dental treatment under general anaesthesia, is also likely to benefit adults and people living in non-fluoridated areas who consume drinks made with fluoridated water.
Benefits for children
Six systematic reviews of studies on the benefits of water fluoridation for children have been carried out since 2000. They found that children in fluoridated areas have lower rates of tooth decay, both in baby and permanent teeth, and that they are also more likely never to have had any tooth decay than children in non-fluoridated areas.
International group of experts points to contemporary evidence of fluoridation’s dental benefits
Writing in the British Dental Journal, experts from the United States, Canada, Ireland, the UK, Israel, Australia and New Zealand called for future systematic reviews of the benefits of water fluoridation to look at a wider range of studies than those included in the Cochrane Oral Health Group review published in 2015.
Benefits for adults
A systematic review of the worldwide evidence has also identified dental benefits for adults who have lived all or most of their lives in fluoridated areas:
One in a Million
Our One in a Million online database includes a comprehensive section on the dental benefits of water fluoridation for children and adults, including summaries of systematic reviews of the evidence, major reports and studies of interest.
Printable version (updated 2013)
Studies of interest
Newcastle v Manchester study
Using both clinical examinations and digital photography, McGrady et al (2012) found lower levels of early and advanced tooth decay in 11-13 year olds in fluoridated Newcastle than in non-fluoridated Manchester. It also found a higher proportion of children without tooth decay in Newcastle and a narrowing of differences in decay levels between those from affluent and deprived backgrounds.
West Midlands v North West study of tooth extractions under a GA
A study by Elmer et al (2013) found a seven times higher rate of tooth extractions under a general anaesthetic among 0 to 19 years olds in the largely non-fluoridated North West region of England than in the mainly fluoridated West Midlands. The difference amounted to an additional 6,000 cases a year in the North West - at a cost of around £4 million to the NHS in that region.
Australian study of dental benefits for adults
A study by Slade et al (2013) confirmed the benefits of water fluoridation for adults, showing reductions in tooth decay of between 11% and 30% for adults who had lived all or a large part of their lives in fluoridated areas. The study found that, overall, greater lifetime exposure to water fluoridation is associated with lower levels of caries experience.