AIM: To evaluate and compare the perceptions and concerns of dental and medical practitioners towards water fluoridation as a caries preventive measure.
METHODS: A self-administered questionnaire comprising 21 questions was designed and validated to assess general knowledge and concerns of fluoride and community water fluoridation (CWF) as a dental caries preventive measure. The questions examined participant’s perception regarding effectiveness, advantages, adverse effects, cost-benefit, and concerns pertinent to CWF. Dentists, general physicians and paediatricians were randomly recruited from public medical/dental centres, university clinics, and the private sector to complete the questionnaire.
RESULTS: A total of 474 participants (74% response rate) completed the questionnaire (294 dentists and 180 medical practitioners). About 86% of the dentists and 78% of the medical practitioners agreed that CWF has a role in caries prevention. However, only a few of those would advise their patients to drink fluoridated water. There were some concerns about CWF, and the main concern in both groups was dental fluorosis. The level of awareness regarding CWF status in Kuwait amongst the two groups was low. However, the majority in both groups (77%) believed that the water supply should be optimally fluoridated.
CONCLUSION: Dental and medical health care professionals agreed that water fluoridation can benefit the oral health of the individuals in the community, however, general knowledge about fluoride benefits, safety, risks and status of public water fluoridation was low.