Dentist James Sledge (5/30 op-ed) says fluoridation would significantly reduce tooth decay in Spokane’s kids. But is this supported by data? Science? Not really.
The largest-ever survey of American children (NIDR, 1986-87) found nearly identical decay rates in the always- versus never-fluoridated groups – an only 0.6 tooth surface difference, or about half a cavity (Brunelle and Carlos, 1990).
Globally, WHO data shows comparable decay rates in fluoridated and non-fluoridated countries.
Spokane County’s cavity rates fall near the middle of 20 counties surveyed but are lower than those of naturally-fluoridated Adams, Benton, Franklin and Walla Walla (Smile Survey 2015-16).
The CDC’s website claims fluoridation reduces decay by 25%. But, nationally, children aged 6-17 average 2.1 cavities (Slade, 2018), and a 25% reduction equals only half a cavity per child.
Surprisingly, research of the 1990’s disproved the long-held theory that fluoride must be swallowed. Even the CDC (8/17/2001) acknowledges that “fluoride’s predominant effect” is not systemic but “posteruptive and topical…” So, it’s topical products like fluoride toothpaste that make sense.
Tooth decay correlates with poverty, not fluoridation. Of U.S. children, 25% account for 80% of decay in permanent teeth, and they come from low-income households (CDC, 8/17/2001).
To seriously reduce cavities, low-income children must have access to the regular dental care economically-privileged children enjoy. Nutrition and oral hygiene are important, too. But fluoridation is an outdated relic that can only disappoint, never really deliver.
*Original letter online at https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2021/jun/14/fluoridation-doesnt-deliver/