April 18, 2011 (8 years ago)

Fluoride Generation Kids Teeth in Decay

© Fluoride Generation Kids teeth in decay

These are also the kids of the so-called Fluoride Generation, for whom fluoridated water supplies are the norm and fillings are supposed to be a thing of the past.

The research, led by an Adelaide University team from the Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health [ARCPOH], will lead a national effort over four years to investigate why the system is failing children.

ARCPOH head Professor John Spencer said children’s dental decay rates remained a major public health problem.

“Child oral health has deteriorated … it’s probably put us back to where we were in the late ‘80s, which is disappointing,” he told Indaily.

“And inequalities in child oral health seem to have widened over the decade.”

Latest statistics show that dental restorations and extractions are the most common reason for hospital admissions among Australian children under 14. In 2006 nearly 27,000 children – 8114 of whom were pre-schoolers – were admitted to hospital for dental work.

Spencer suggested that diet was a likely factor in the downturn.

“An increase in consumption of soft drinks, acidic fruit juices, soft drinks and the like; and then a decreased use of fluoridated water as part of drinking; and possibly other subtle changes.”

He rejected suggestions by the critics of fluoridated water that adding it to the water supply made no statistical difference in decay rates.

More likely, he said, the increasing decay trend was linked to a lack of fluoridated water in people’s diets.

“There’s an increasing number of people who have water filters that remove fluoride in their homes; we’re living in an era where all new homes have rainwater tanks and increasingly people are using that rainwater as drinking water within their home; then if you add the bottled water industry, with the growth in the consumption of bottled water, it’s at least plausible that children are no longer exposed to the same level of fluoride in water than what they were.”

The main focus of the study will examine how dental services for children are organised and delivered, comparing private dentists and school dental services.

The sample of 32,000 children aged 5-14 years will be drawn from a mixture of public and private schools across Australia.

“Public programs like the school dental services are not reaching as many children, yet private dental services may be out of the financial reach of many families,” Spencer said.

The study will also document current levels of oral health and its variation across the child population.

“There are inequalities, social inequalities. There are quite significant differences in oral health by geographic region, by state and territory, as well as variation with socio-economic status and things.”

The $1.3 million project is one of two NHMRC Partnership Project Grants awarded to South Australia in the past month – both to the University of Adelaide.

In total, 16 health and medical research projects across Australia have been awarded $14 million in federal funding for the new Partnership Projects.