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Caries prevalence and water fluoridation in Israel: a cross-sectional study.

Quintessence International 2024 Februrary 29
OBJECTIVES: To assess the effect of Community Water Fluoridation (CWF) in the prevalence of dental caries and dental fluorosis in 12-year-old children living in Israel. Considering that CWF is important in the prevention of dental caries. Between 2002 and 2014, the water in communities of at least 5,000 individuals was fluoridated. In 2014, CWF in Israel stopped.

METHOD AND MATERIALS: Data on 12-year-old children from all areas in Israel from the national cross-sectional epidemiological survey conducted in 2011 to 2012 were stratified by city water fluoridation and by city and school socioeconomic status. Two dependent variables were defined: (1) DMFT index of caries experience in the permanent dentition; (2) dental fluorosis in central incisors using the Thylstrup-Fejerskov classification of fluorosis.

RESULTS: Data from 2,181 12-year-olds were analyzed. The average DMFT was 1.17 ± 1.72, and 49% were caries-free. Based on DMFT, the caries experience was significantly higher in nonfluoridated cities (1.38 vs 0.98 in fluoridated cities) and there were more caries-free children in fluoridated cities (56.4% vs 40.6% in nonfluoridated). DMFT was higher in cities with lower socioeconomic status than high socioeconomic status (1.29 vs 1.05, respectively, P < .001) and there were fewer caries-free children in low socioeconomic status cities (44.5% vs 53.0% in high socioeconomic status cities, P < .0001). Almost all the 10.3% of children with signs of fluorosis (scoring at least 1 in the Thylstrup-Fejerskov index), had questionable to mild fluorosis (9.3%).

CONCLUSIONS: CWF is a cheap, simple method of dental health protection that reaches all socioeconomic levels, and cessation of water fluoridation reduced the health of Israel's children.

CLINICAL SIGNIFICANCE: Water fluoridation provides substantial caries prevention, by reaching a substantial number of people. The relevance of this work is for policymakers to consider CWF as clinically proven method for reducing health inequalities.

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