Effects of water fluoridation on caries experience in the primary dentition in a high caries risk community in Queensland, Australia

Caries Res. 2015;49(2):184-91. doi: 10.1159/000369864. Epub 2015 Feb 6.


Objectives: In December 2008, artificial water fluoridation was introduced for the first time to the Logan-Beaudesert district in the state of Queensland, Australia. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of water fluoridation in the primary dentition in this community after a period of 36 months.

Methods: Children aged 4-9 years with clinical examinations and bitewing radiographs (BWs) taken before water fluoridation (pre-F) were randomly selected as comparison controls for age matched children who had been exposed to a mean period of 36 months of water fluoridation (post-F). A total of 201 sets of pre-F BWs from children (mean age 6.95 ± 1.05 years) and 256 sets of post-F BWs from children (mean age 7.19 ± 1.23 years) attending schools in the district were randomly selected. Caries experience in the primary dentition was determined as decayed, missing or filled teeth/surfaces (dmft/dmfs).

Results: The caries prevalence for the pre-F group was 87% compared to 75% in the post-F group (Odds ratio (OR): 0.44, 95% CI: 0.27-0.72). Overall, there was a 19 percent reduction of mean dmft from 4.54 in the pre-F group to 3.66 in the post-F group (p = 0.005). After fluoridation, the dmfs was reduced from 6.68 to 5.17 (p = 0.0056). The distal surfaces of maxillary first primary molars experienced the greatest reduction (26%) in caries experience after water fluoridation (p < 0.001).

Conclusions: After only 36 months of water fluoridation there was a significant drop in caries prevalence from 87 to 75% and a 19% reduction in caries experience in a community with one of the highest caries rates in Australia.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • DMF Index
  • Dental Caries / epidemiology*
  • Dental Caries Susceptibility
  • Dental Enamel / pathology
  • Dental Restoration, Permanent / statistics & numerical data
  • Dentin / pathology
  • Fluoridation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Molar / pathology
  • Poverty
  • Prevalence
  • Queensland / epidemiology
  • Radiography, Bitewing
  • Tooth, Deciduous / pathology