Fluoride Action Network



  • Optimal fluoride level in the tap water was not associated with lower caries indices in the studied sample.
  • Dental caries experience in examined children depended primarily on oral hygiene and diet.
  • Self-declared use of at-home dental care products was associated with higher values of urinary fluoride.

Background: Successful oral health interventions must be based on the specific needs of the population that they serve. Evaluation of habits related to dental caries development and estimation of fluoride exposure in a target group of young patients helps to plan effective and safe caries prevention strategies.

Objectives: The study aimed to evaluate factors affecting dental caries experience and sources of fluoride exposure in preschool children living in two areas: with optimal and low natural content of fluoride in drinking water.

Materials and methods: The study included a group of 73 children of both sexes aged 4–7 years attending two kindergartens in Sroda Wielkopolska and Turek (Wielkopolska Voivodeship, Poland), where the content of fluoride in drinking water according to data obtained in the sanitary station ranged from 0.68 to 0.74 mg/L (optimal concentration of fluoride) and from 0.19 to 0.30 mg/L (low concentration of fluoride), respectively. Parents of patients completed a survey about diet, hygiene, and dental care, taking into account the child’s fluoride exposure. The calibrated dentist assessed the oral health condition using a mirror, a CPI probe, and a headlamp. Oral hygiene was recorded using the Silness and Loe plaque index, caries experience by calculating the numbers of decayed, missing, and filled primary, and permanent teeth (dmf and DMF, respectively) while caries frequency by calculating the percentage of children with caries experience above 0. In order to assess the fluoride concentrations in urine and drinking water, parents were asked to provide a urine sample collected on fasting and a tap water sample. Fluoride concentrations were assessed using a 09–37 (MARAT) fluoride ion-selective electrode and a RAE 111 silver-chloride reference electrode. Statistical analysis was conducted using the data analysis software system Statistica (version 12, StatSoft, Inc. 2014), assuming a statistical significance level p < 0.05.

Results: No statistically significant differences were found between caries indices of the examined children in each kindergarten (p > 0.05). Urinary fluoride levels were higher in children who tended to swallow toothpaste or used fluoride rinses and positively correlated with fluoride concentrations in the drinking water. Dental caries experience in the examined children depended on the effectiveness and frequency of oral hygiene procedures and dietary habits.

Conclusions: The strategy aimed at improving the oral health of the examined group of children should include accomplishing oral hygiene, promoting a non-cariogenic diet, and, finally, controlling fluoride exposure from at-home fluoride products. Caries prevention program ought to be adjusted to individual characteristics of each child, taking into consideration oral hygiene practices, dietary habits and total fluoride intake.

*Original abstract online at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0946672X2100016X