The BADT has welcomed the findings of the Cochrane Oral Health Review on water fluoridation published recently.
Acknowledging that children from poorer backgrounds have greater levels of tooth decay, the Cochrane Oral Health Group’s review of studies on fluoridated water suggests that the introduction of water fluoridation resulted in a 35% reduction in decayed, missing or filled baby teeth and a 26% reduction in decayed, missing or filled permanent teeth.
It also increased the percentage of children with no decay by 15%.
‘I work in an area of high need and poverty and welcome these findings.’ Fiona Sandom, British Association of Dental Therapists (BADT) president, said.
‘In Wales, the recently published Dental Epidemiological Survey of three year olds in Wales 2013-14: First Release Report on Caries into Dentine clearly shows that children in the most deprived areas of Wales experience the most disease.
‘Whilst we have the invaluable Designed to Smile brushing programme, it fails to reach those very young children who, by the age of three, already have decay.
‘Dental decay in the young affects the child’s ability to speak, eat and learn and is the primary reason for children being admitted to hospital for general anaesthetic.
‘I know there are other ways of exposing the teeth to fluoride, but it requires both motivation and opportunity – something not always readily available to the most vulnerable.’
The survey concludes that water fluoridation is effective at reducing tooth decay in children’s baby and permanent teeth but further research is needed.
The authors added: ‘The decision to implement a water fluoridation programme relies upon an understanding of the population’s oral health behaviour (eg use of fluoride toothpaste), the availability and uptake of other caries prevention strategies, their diet and consumption of tap water and the movement/migration of the population.’
Fiona added: ‘I have also seen first hand the benefit of water fluoridation as I grew up on Anglesey, which was itself fluoridated until 1990 and seen the decay levels subsequently rise in the population.
‘Dental therapists can help child patients out of pain, but fluoride is key to prevention in many cases.’