Fluoride Action Network

WHO: Tooth Decay Rates in Fluoridated vs. Non-Fluoridated Countries

August 21st, 2012

The following data from the World Health Organization provides the most recently reported tooth decay rates in 12-old-year children in developed nations. As can be seen, many countries with no water fluoridation at all have lower rates of tooth decay than countries that fluoridate more than 60% of their water. In fact, of the seven countries with the lowest tooth decay rates, six have no water fluoridation programs, while one (England) fluoridates only about 10% of its water.  To the extent that water fluoridation has a benefit on teeth, therefore, it is not a discernible benefit when comparing the tooth decay rates of fluoridated vs. non-fluoridated countries.

For a practice (water fluoridation) hailed as one of the “top ten public health achievements of the 20th century,” one would expect to see some detrimental effect among the countries that have opted against doing it. As this data shows, however, no such negative effect can be found.

  • To see the historical tooth decay trends in these countries, click here. 
  • For more information on fluoride and tooth decay, click here. 

World Health Organization Data: DMFT (Decayed, Missing & Filled Teeth) Status for 12 Year Olds By Country

Country DMFTs Year Status*
Denmark 0.7 2008 No water fluoridation.
No salt fluoridation.
Germany 0.7 2005 No water fluoridation.
67% salt fluoridation.
England 0.7 2009 11% water fluoridation.
No salt fluoridation.
Netherlands* 0.8 2002 No water fluoridation.
No salt fluoridation.
Switzerland** 0.82 2009 No water fluoridation.
88% salt fluoridation.
Belgium 0.9 2009-10 No water fluoridation.
No salt fluoridation.
Sweden 0.9 2008 No water fluoridation.
No salt fluoridation.
Australia 1.0 2003-2004 80% water fluoridation.
No salt fluoridation.
Austria 1.0 2002
6% salt fluoridation.
Ireland 1.1 2002 100% water fluoridation in study.
No salt fluoridation.
Italy 1.1 2004 No water fluoridation.
No salt fluoridation.
United States 1.19 1999-2004 64% water fluoridation.
No salt fluoridation.
Finland 1.2 2006 No water fluoridation.
No salt fluoridation.
France 1.2 2006 No water fluoridation.
65% salt fluoridation.
Spain 1.3 2004 11% water fluoridation.
10% salt fluoridation.
Greece 1.35 2005-06 No water fluoridation.
No salt fluoridation.
Iceland 1.4 2005 No water fluoridation.
No salt fluoridation.
New Zealand 1.4 2009 61% water fluoridation.
No salt fluoridation.
Japan 1.7 2005 No water fluoridation.
No salt fluoridation.
Norway 1.7 2004 No water fluoridation.
No salt fluoridation.
* The Hague | ** Zurich
Tooth Decay data from:

  • World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Education, Training, and Research in Oral Health, Malmö University, Sweden. http://www.mah.se/CAPP/ (accessed on June 10, 2012)

Salt fluoridation data from:

  • Gotzfried F. (2006). Legal aspects of fluoride in salt, particularly within the EU. Schweiz Monatsschr Zahnmed 116:371-75.