The relationship between fluoridation, social class and caries experience in 5-year-old children in Newcastle and Northumberland in 1987

Br Dent J. 1989 Jul 22;167(2):57-61. doi: 10.1038/sj.bdj.4806919.


The dental health of 457 5-year-old children who have lived continuously in fluoridated (at 1.0 mg F/litre) Newcastle and 370 children of the same age in non-fluoridated (less than 0.1 mg F/litre) South Northumberland has been reported. This paper examines in detail the caries prevalence in social class groups I + II, III, IV + V, and the social class/fluoridation relationship in 1987. The prevalence of dental caries in the three social class groupings I + II, III, and IV + V (and the mean dmft), respectively, was 35% (1.1), 46% (1.7) and 67% (2.4) in the fluoridated area, and 59% (2.2), 67% (3.7) and 77% (5.0) in the non-fluoridated area. Fluoridation was effective in all social class groupings and, because caries levels were higher in social classes IV + V, fluoridation brought about greater savings for these children than for those in social classes I + II. Fluoridation reduces but does not eliminate social inequalities, leaving social disadvantage/social background/social class as the major factors in caries prevalence for this age group. Further research into the fluoridation/social class relationship is required, particularly since the understanding of occupational class, now considered an imperfect representation of social class, is being superseded by other criteria which have stronger associations with measures of poor health.

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • DMF Index
  • Dental Caries / epidemiology*
  • England
  • Fluoridation*
  • Humans
  • Social Class*
  • Tooth Extraction / statistics & numerical data
  • Tooth, Deciduous
  • Toothache / epidemiology