Fluoridation linked to senior dental health

By - Bad Breath Expert

SUMMARY: A study in Ireland found that older adults living in communities with fluoridated water were more likely to have all their teeth.

Posted: March 31, 2015

According to a new study conducted by researchers at the dentistry school of Trinity College Dublin, those living in communities with fluoridated water are more likely to hold onto their teeth into old age. The research, which was part of the Irish Longitudinal Study on Aging (TILDA), revealed that adults older than 50 more frequently reported having all of their teeth when compared to seniors living in communities without fluoridation.

Research and findings
According to The New York Times, water was first fluoridated in Ireland in 1964 and widely used in urban areas by 1970. However, rural regions reliant on well water often don't have fluoridated water. The team notes that, geographically, this creates a patchwork in which communities with and without fluoridated water are in near proximity. Researchers studied 4,977 adults participating in TILDA, comparing bone density to the amount of fluoride in the local water supply. In regard to bone health, the team found no significant relationship with the amount of fluoride in the water. However, the adults were also asked how many natural teeth they still had, and  those living in fluoridated areas were more likely to have maintained their teeth.

The country's  2006 census notes that 84 percent of Irish residents have fluoridated water. Yet researchers could not determine the exact amount of fluoride in each individual participant's water supply. Instead, the team used census data to calculate how many households had fluoridated water per electoral district. Researchers state that the districts are small enough in size to measure the effect of fluoridation. Numerous other factors were taken into account, such as tobacco use, the time they had spent living in Ireland, gender and age, among other characteristics.

Researchers found that only slightly more than 10 percent of participants still had all of their natural teeth. The team calculated that if all communities in Ireland included fluoridated water, this number would increase to 12.9 percent. One shortcoming of the study is that other sources of fluoride such as toothpaste, food and mouthwashes could not be taken into account.

While fluoridation remains controversial in some areas, numerous studies have revealed the mineral's beneficial qualities. In this case, older adults maintaining their teeth was linked to overall well-being, suggesting that fluoride could play a role in promoting public health well beyond basic oral care expectations.

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