Groups like the American Dental Association and American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry just love fluoride, claiming that it is “effective” in preventing tooth decay. But thanks to a new review commissioned by the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs and published in their own journal, JADA, when it comes to children, they may need to start changing their tune, and fast.
After reviewing the 20 reports from 12 trials that met their criteria for inclusion, the authors conclude:
Regarding children aged 3 years to younger than 6 years, there is inconsistent and weak evidence regarding the effectiveness of [fluoride] supplements on primary teeth and permanent teeth.
Repeat: In children 6 years old or younger, there is little evidence that fluoride supplements help fight cavities. It does, however, increase the risk of the child developing fluorosis, particularly amongst the youngest of children.
For older kids, the authors found some evidence of effectiveness, with a lower risk of fluorosis. However, in discussing the quality of evidence, they give an important caveat:
One consistent finding among the majority of the studies on fluoride supplements is the subjects’ low rates of compliance. The high rates at which participants withdrew from these studies overall raise a concern about the utility of advocating for this preventive regimen, which requires daily commitment from caregivers.
Could this mark the beginning of the end of the ADA’s blanket endorsement of fluoride? Stay tuned…