Community water fluoridation and caries prevention: a critical review

Clin Oral Investig. 2007 Sep;11(3):189-93. doi: 10.1007/s00784-007-0111-6. Epub 2007 Feb 27.


The aim of this paper was to critically review the current role of community water fluoridation in preventing dental caries. Original articles and reviews published in English language from January 2001 to June 2006 were selected through MEDLINE database. Other sources were taken from the references of the selected papers. For the past 50 years community water fluoridation has been considered the milestone of caries prevention and as one of the major public health measures of the 20th century. However, it is now accepted that the primary cariostatic action of fluoride occurs after tooth eruption. Moreover, the caries reduction directly attributable to water fluoridation have declined in the last decades as the use of topical fluoride had become more widespread, whereas enamel fluorosis has been reported as an emerging problem in fluoridated areas. Several studies conducted in fluoridated and nonfluoridated communities suggested that this method of delivering fluoride may be unnecessary for caries prevention, particularly in the industrialized countries where the caries level has became low. Although water fluoridation may still be a relevant public health measure in poor and disadvantaged populations, the use of topical fluoride offers an optimal opportunity to prevent caries among people living in both industrialized and developing countries.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Cariostatic Agents / adverse effects
  • Cariostatic Agents / analysis
  • Cariostatic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Dental Caries / prevention & control*
  • Developed Countries
  • Developing Countries
  • Ethics, Medical
  • Fluoridation* / ethics
  • Fluorides / adverse effects
  • Fluorides / analysis
  • Fluorides / therapeutic use
  • Fluorides, Topical / therapeutic use
  • Fluorosis, Dental / etiology
  • Global Health
  • Human Rights
  • Humans
  • Oral Health
  • Public Health
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Water Supply / analysis


  • Cariostatic Agents
  • Fluorides, Topical
  • Fluorides