A new study conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Adelaide, Australia, has produced the strongest evidence yet that fluoride in drinking water provides dental health benefits to adults, even those who had not received fluoridated drinking water as children.
In the first population-level study of its kind, the study shows that fluoridated drinking water prevents tooth decay for all adults regardless of age, and whether or not they consumed fluoridated water during childhood.
Led by UNC School of Dentistry faculty member Gary Slade, the study adds a new dimension to evidence regarding dental health benefits of fluoridation.
"It was once thought that fluoridated drinking water only benefited children who consumed it from birth," explained Slade, who is John W. Stamm Distinguished Professor and director of the oral epidemiology Ph.D. program at UNC. "Now we show that fluoridated water reduces tooth decay in adults, even if they start drinking it after childhood. In public health terms, it means that more people benefit from water fluoridation than previously thought."