Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Fluorides and Oral Health

Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Fluorides and Oral Health

Article excerpt

There is clear evidence that regular, low-level exposure of a population to fluorides, particularly in toothpaste and drinking-water, can reduce the prevalence of dental caries. The most cost-effective means of administering fluorides in a given community will depend on its available resources, dental caries level, and existing environmental sources of fluoride exposure. In order to review the effects of fluorides on oral health, the WHO Expert Committee on Oral Health Status and Fluoride Use held a meeting in Geneva on 22-28 November 1993. Below are summarized the recommendations made by the participants.

* Community water fluoridation should be introduced and maintained wherever it is socially acceptable and feasible. The optimum concentration of fluoride in water should be in the range 0.5-1.0 mg/l.

* As an alternative to water fluoridation, fluoridation of table salt at a minimum concentration of 200 mg F /kg should be considered.

* Only one systemic fluoride measure should be used at any time.

* As a public health measure, fluoride tablets or drops have a limited application. In areas with a medium-to-low prevalence of caries, a conservative prescribing policy should be adopted (for those at risk, 0.5 mg F-/day from the age of 3 years). In areas of high prevalence, a dosage regimen should be used, starting at 6 months of age, that takes into account the fluoride content of the local drinking-water.

* Fluoridation of milk has produced encouraging results, but further studies of its use are recommended.

* Efforts should be made to develop affordable fluoridated toothpastes for use in developing countries. Since the use of such toothpastes is a public health measure, countries should exempt them from the duties and taxation applied to cosmetics.

* Fluoridated toothpaste tubes should carry the advice that for under-6-year-olds brushing should be supervised and that only a small amount of toothpaste (<5 mm) be used at any given time. …

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