Fluoride Action Network


n contrast to the anticipated increase in dental caries following the cessation of water fluoridation in the cities Chemnitz (formerly Karl-Marx-Stadt) and Plauen, a significant fall in caries prevalence was observed. This trend corresponded to the national caries decline and appeared to be a new population-wide phenomenon. Additional surveys (N=1017) carried out in the formerly-fluoridated towns of Spremberg (N=9042) and Zittau (N=6232) were carried out in order to support this unexpected epidemiological finding. Pupils from these towns, aged 8/9-, 12/13- and 15/16-years, have been examined repeatedly over the last 20 years using standardised caries-methodological procedures. While the data provided additional support for the established fact of a caries reduction brought about by the fluoridation of drinking water (48% on average), it has also provided further support for the contention that caries prevalence may continue to fall after the reduction of fluoride concentration in the water supply from about 1 ppm to below 0.2 ppm F. Caries levels for the 12-year-olds of both towns significantly decreased during the years 1993-96, following the cessation of water fluoridation. In Spremberg, DMFT fell from 2.36 to 1.45 (38.5%) and in Zittau from 2.47 to 1.96 (20.6%). These findings have therefore supported the previously observed change in the caries trend of Chemnitz and Plauen. The mean of 1.81 DMFT for the 12-year-olds, computed from data of the four towns, is the lowest observed in East Germany during the past 40 years. The causes for the changed caries trend were seen on the one hand in improvements in attitudes towards oral health behaviour and, on the other hand, to the broader availability and application of preventive measures (F-salt, F-toothpastes, fissure sealants etc.). There is, however, still no definitive explanation for the current pattern and further analysis of future caries trends in the formerly fluoridated towns would therefore seem to be necessary.