sculpture of teeth with cavitiesConsidering that fluoride is in nearly all common toothpastes and most of the water we drink, you’d think tooth decay would be just a distant memory by now.

But no.

Nearly 20% of kids and over 30% of adults have untreated dental caries. And according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, nearly all adults age 64 or younger have had decay in their permanent teeth.

Of course, you could argue that this doesn’t suggest a failure of fluoride so much as the fact that we eat so many added sugars and fermentable carbs these days, even the fluoride we get isn’t enough to undo the damage (even as it raises the rate of dental fluorosis).

But then you have research like the 2016 Journal of Dental Research study on caries and sugar consumption. Although more sugar meant more cavities, even kids in the low consumption group were affected “despite the use of fluoride.”

Similarly, a study published earlier this summer in the same journal found that young children developed caries whether they got fluoride or not. At best, noted the researchers, fluoride “slowed down its progression.”

How slow? The caries rate was just 5% higher in the non-fluoride group (34 vs. 39%), and about 2 1/2 more tooth surfaces were affected (7.2 vs. 9.6).

Now a new study echoes these findings.

For this study, published in Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology, researchers designed a triple-blind randomized control trial involving 275 caries-free children, ages 2 to 3. All came from low income areas of Chile where there was no water fluoridation. All received dental education and were given toothbrushes and toothpaste. Every 6 months for four years, participants randomly received fluoride varnish treatments or placebo.

As in the previous study, large numbers of the children developed caries: 55.6% in the placebo group, 45% in the fluoride group.

In conclusion, biannual fluoride varnish application is not effective in preschool children from rural nonfluoridated communities at a high risk of caries.

This is the best we’ve got?

We’ve said it before and we’ll keep on saying it: The best defense is a excellent home hygiene and a healthy biological terrain, the foundation of which is healthy eating – whole foods-based, low in processed carbs, and practically devoid of added sugars.

Image modified from Marty Ito, via Flickr


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