The Fluoride Debate







Question 1
Question 2
Question 3
Question 4
Question 5
Question 6
Question 7
Question 8

Question 9
Question 10
Question 11
Question 12

Question 13
Question 14

Question 15
Question 16
Question 17

Question 18
Question 19
Question 20
Question 21
Question 22
Question 23
Question 24
Question 25
Question 26
Question 27
Question 28
Question 29
Question 30
Question 31
Question 32
Question 33


Question 34
Question 35
Question 36
Question 37
Question 38
Question 39
Question 40

Question 41
Question 42
Question 43



Question 7.
Is tooth decay still a serious problem?

ADA's Fluoridation Facts Short Answer
Yes. Tooth decay or dental decay is an infectious disease that continues to be a significant oral health problem.

ADA's Fluoridation Facts Long Answer
Tooth decay is, by far, the most common and costly oral health problem in all age groups.58 It is one of the principal causes of tooth loss from early childhood through middle age. A dramatic increase in tooth loss occurs among people 35 through 44 years of age. The two leading causes of tooth loss in this age group are dental decay and periodontal diseases.8 Decay continues to be problematic for middle-aged and older adults, particularly root decay because of receding gums. In addition to its effects in the mouth, dental decay can affect general well-being by interfering with an individual's ability to eat certain foods and by impacting an individual's emotional and social well-being by causing pain and discomfort. Tooth decay, particularly in the front teeth, can detract from appearance, thus affecting self-esteem.

Despite a decrease in the overall decay experience of U.S. schoolchildren over the past two decades, tooth decay is still a significant oral health problem, especially in certain segments of the population. The 1986-1987 National Institute of Dental Research (NIDR) survey of approximately 40,000 U.S. school children found that 25% of students ages 5 to 17 accounted for 75% of the decay experienced in permanent teeth.58 Some of the risk factors that increase an individual's risk for decay are irregular dental visits, deep pits and fissures in the chewing surfaces of teeth, inadequate saliva flow, frequent sugar intake and very high oral bacteria counts.

Additional discussion on this topic may be found in the Introduction, Water Fluoridation's Role in Reducing Dental Decay.

Because dental decay is so common, it mistakenly tends to be regarded as an inevitable part of life. Data from NHANES III collected on adults aged 18 and older revealed that 94% showed evidence of past or present decay in the crowns of teeth, and 22.5% had evidence of root surface decay.59

In addition to impacting emotional and social well-being, the consequences of dental disease are reflected in the cost of its treatment. The nation's dental health bill in 1997 was $50.6 billion.60 Again, the goal must be prevention rather than repair. Fluoridation is presently the most cost-effective method for the prevention of tooth decay for residents of a community in the United States.61, 62

Repeat of Question 7.
Is tooth decay still a serious problem?

Opposition's Response

There has been a decline in dental decay in the United States in both fluoridated and non-fluoridated areas, as well as in Europe, which is now 98% fluoridation free. It is probably due to improved diet and dental hygiene. Dental decay is still a serious problem, but fluoridation is not the answer.

The ADA states that, "Fluoridation is presently the most cost-effective method for the prevention of tooth decay for all residents of a community." It is not. Dental bills are higher in fluoridated areas than in non-fluoridated areas. (See Cost Effectiveness section).

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First Edition
February 2001

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