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Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Print version ISSN 0042-9686


JONES, Sheila; BURT, Brian A.; PETERSEN, Poul Erik  and  LENNON, Michael A.. The effective use of fluorides in public health. Bull World Health Organ [online]. 2005, vol.83, n.9, pp.670-676. ISSN 0042-9686.

Dental caries remain a public health problem for many developing countries and for underprivileged populations in developed countries. This paper outlines the historical development of public health approaches to the use of fluoride and comments on their effectiveness. Early research and development was concerned with waterborne fluorides, both naturally occurring and added, and their effects on the prevalence and incidence of dental caries and dental fluorosis. In the latter half of the 20th century, the focus of research was on fluoride toothpastes and mouth rinses. More recently, systematic reviews summarizing these extensive databases have indicated that water fluoridation and fluoride toothpastes both substantially reduce the prevalence and incidence of dental caries. We present four case studies that illustrate the use of fluoride in modern public health practice, focusing on: recent water fluoridation schemes in California, USA; salt fluoridation in Jamaica; milk fluoridation in Chile; and the development of "affordable" fluoride toothpastes in Indonesia. Common themes are the concern to reduce demands for compliance with fluoride regimes that rely upon action by individuals and their families, and the issue of cost. We recommend that a community should use no more than one systemic fluoride (i.e. water or salt or milk fluoridation) combined with the use of fluoride toothpastes, and that the prevalence of dental fluorosis should be monitored in order to detect increases in or higher-than-acceptable levels.

Keywords : Fluorides [therapeutic use]; Fluorides, Topical [therapeutic use]; Dental caries [prevention and control]; Fluoridation; Water supply; Milk; Sodium chloride; Dietary; Toothpaste [therapeutic use]; Case reports; Meta-analysis; Review literature; United States; Jamaica; Chile; Indonesia.

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