Fluoride Action Network


The decline in prevalence of dental caries in the western world is largely ascribed to the protective role of fluoride in water. However, in several Third World regions, its presence in excessive amounts has been detrimental to the health of resident communities due to the resulting endemic dental and skeletal fluorosis. As a prelude to introduction of preventive intervention among the affected communities, there is need to assess knowledge and perception, and affordable and effective possibilities. The results of such an assessment which was based on response of mothers from two affected communities showed that objectionable dental fluorosis was not viewed as a common health problem in the context of other more common diseases. A reawakening of interest and concern was evident when issues pertaining to oral health were addressed. Dental fluorosis was viewed as an important problem because of its unfavourable effects on an individual’s personality by between 60.4 and 84.3% of the respondents. While 60% and over of the respondents attributed the problem to water, knowledge on perceived methods of prevention of fluorosis were significantly lower. Only 12% of respondents from a relatively higher income group were instituting relevant preventive strategies. Although defluoridation of water had been instituted in one area, problems relating to wrong choice of water for defluoridation to inadequate distribution of the defluoridated water were evident. Education of the communities on methods of reducing fluoride ingestion and the significance of the defluoridated water, rationalizing the distribution of defluoridated water, facilitating collection of rain water, protection of available low fluoride surface water from contamination with agro-chemicals and household defluoridation were recommended.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)