But Does Fluoride Stop Decay? Not So Much, Suggests New Study
Posted on Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019
Elsewhere on the fluoridation front, another new study questions the conventional wisdom on fluoride varnishes.
The literature review and meta-analysis, published last month in Caries Research, looked at data from 20 earlier studies from 13 countries to see how effective such treatments are when it comes to preventing tooth decay in preschoolers.
Fluoride varnish has its fans, of course, because it’s relatively cheap and easy to provide, there’s less risk of the child swallowing fluoride, and besides, everybody just KNOWS that fluoride prevents decay.
Except when it doesn’t.
“As much as we want fluoride varnish to be effective, the current evidence doesn’t support a huge benefit for its use in young children,” Dr. [Joana] Cunha-Cruz [one of the study authors] said.
At best, its benefits were found to be only “modest and uncertain.”
At the surface level, the results showed a statistically significant difference favoring FV [fluoride varnish]. Overall, the lower increment of caries in the varnish group was of one surface per child or less. This difference is possibly clinically irrelevant. At the tooth level, no significant difference was observed between children who received FV and those who did not. Finally, at the individual level, the meta-analysis showed that the risk of developing new dentine caries lesions was reduced by 12% among the children who received FV when compared to those who did not. This was a rather modest benefit as a large number of the children developed new dentine caries lesions, regardless of FV use. [emphasis added]
Despite this, the authors appear to remain believers in fluoride, not questioning its use in toothpaste, rinses, or other applications. To their credit, however, they also emphasize that cutting out the sugar is “an even more cost-effective strategy” when it comes to preventing decay.
For truly, fluoride is no silver bullet. What does help? As ever, eating right – nutrient-dense, minimally processed foods with few or no added sugars and refined carbs – and maintaining a healthy biological terrain.