York review evidence of reductions in inequalities
The York review (2000) of water fluoridation studies found evidence to suggest that this public measure may help to reduce dental health inequalities that ordinarily divide children living in affluent communities from those in more socially deprived communities.
Combining the results of five studies of 5-year old children that had used the same method of classifying social class , the York analysis found that across all social classes the number of teeth affected by decay was lower in fluoridated than in non-fluoridated areas. This was no surprise, as the benefits of fluoridated water in preventing tooth decay were already very well known.
Key York study pointing to potentially big reductions in inequalities in areas with high decay and poverty levels
One important study included in the York review looked at the dental health of 5-year olds living in electoral wards of seven fluoridated areas and seven matched non-fluoridated areas with varying degrees of social deprivation.
The study concluded that water fluoridation reduces tooth decay more in disadvantaged communities than in affluent communities, and that the introduction of water fluoridation schemes in areas where levels of poverty and tooth decay are high, such as Manchester, “would substantially reduce inequalities in dental health”.
Impact of fluoridation on dental health inequalities in the West Midlands
In 2006, an analysis of tooth decay rates across the West Midlands published in a report by the regional director of public health showed that in fluoridated areas there was a smaller difference in tooth decay rates between children in the most affluent and most socially deprived families than there was between children from these different social groups in non-fluoridated areas.
Study finds lower dental health inequalities in fluoridated Newcastle
A study published in 2012 found that the difference in the number of decayed teeth between children from the most and least affluent groups in non-fluoridated Manchester was greater than the difference between children from the most and least affluent groups in fluoridated Newcastle.
Study of 5-year olds finds narrower dental health divide in fluoridated areas
A study (British Dental Journal, 1999) comparing oral health and social deprivation among 10,000 five-year olds in the north of England found that water fluoridation had virtually halved tooth decay overall and, at the same time, had reduced the ‘dental caries divide’ ordinarily separating children from the most affluent and poorest backgrounds. Read more
Study of 12-year olds finds narrower dental health divide in fluoridated areas
A study (British Dental Journal, 2000) comparing oral health and social deprivation among nearly 7,000 twelve-year olds in the north of England found that water fluoridation had markedly reduced tooth decay overall and, at the same time, had reduced the ‘dental caries divide’ ordinarily separating children from the most affluent and poorest backgrounds.