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N Z Dent J. 2004 Mar;100(1):10-5.

Water fluoridation and dental caries in 5- and 12-year-old children from Canterbury and Wellington.

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School and Community Dental Service, Canterbury District Health Board, Christchurch, New Zealand.



Claims have been made that the effectiveness of water fluoridation has reduced due to the widespread availability of other sources of fluoride. This study examines the differences in the oral health of children living in fluoridated and non-fluoridated areas of Canterbury and Wellington, New Zealand.


The data used in this cross-sectional study had been routinely collected into a computerized data-collection system by the School Dental Services in the two study areas.


Records of dental status (dmfs/DMFS), fluoridation status, ethnicity, and socio-economic status for 8030 5-year-olds, and 6916 12-year-olds in 1996 were analysed.


Caries prevalence and severity was consistently lower for children in the fluoridated area for both age groups, and within all subgroups. Five-year-olds in the fluoridated area had 2.63 dmfs (sd, 5.88), and those in the non-fluoridated area 3.80 dmfs (sd, 6.79). For 12-year-olds the respective figures were 1.39 DMFS (sd, 2.30) and 2.37 DMFS (sd, 3.46). Multivariable analysis confirmed the independent association between water fluoridation and better dental health.


This results of this study show children living in a fluoridated area to have significantly better oral health compared to those not in a fluoridated area. These differences are greater for Maori and Pacific children and children of low socio-economic status.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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