New research has found that Water Fluoridation does not have an adverse impact on the brain development of children. This is a positive finding, especially given the dental benefits that water fluoridation can have. This finding may result in some of the concerns with water fluoridation being alleviated. Therefore, we may see more positivity towards water fluoridation, and potentially an increased uptake.
New research into the safety of Water Fluoridation has found that there is no link between water fluoridation and adverse effects on the development of children’s brains.
There have been many concerns regarding the effect that water fluoridation has on children. But this new study may alleviate some of the concerns of the practice.
The results of this study may lead to renewed calls for water fluoridation to become more widespread. Currently, the practice is not widely used, though this could change in the future.
What is Water Fluoridation?
Water fluoridation is a common practice in many countries. Approximately 35% of the world’s population has access to fluoridated water .
Water fluoridation involves a small concentration of fluoride being added to the public water supply. Fluoride is a very helpful ingredient for teeth, and helps to strengthen them. Numerous studies have linked water fluoridation to strong reductions in cavities .
However, water fluoridation is a controversial topic. For example, there are concerns over the impact the practice has on children. Moreover, others have questioned the ethics behind it, and pointed to the dangers of over-exposure to water fluoridation. In fact, many countries have banned its use.
In Queensland, where this study was set, around 71% of residents have access to water fluoridation – well below the 90% national average of Australia .
The research came from the University of Queensland’s School of Dentistry. Subsequently, their work was published in the Journal of Dental Research .
The study involved 2,682 children. It looked at the brain development of children exposed to fluoridated water against those who had not been exposed . The researchers were hoping to see if the concerns regarding the impact on fluoridation is merited.
These participants had all been part of Australia’s National Child Oral Health Study 2012-2014 – at a time when they were aged from 12 to 17 .
The researchers wanted to test emotional development, behaviour and functions like memory and self-control. These are all strong markers of brain development.
To test these, various scientific questionnaires were provided to the study participants. For example, emotional and behavioural development was analyzed through the Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire .
To analyze the results, the researchers used multivariable regression models, which helped them to look at all of the questionnaire results in one singular model, aiding their conclusions .
Following the analysis, the researchers concluded that the children who had been exposed to water fluoridation had no adverse effects on brain development, with the findings being very similar between both cohorts .
What this means
These results are very positive for water fluoridation. They seem to disprove one of the main claims against water fluoridation.
Professor Loc Do from the University of Queensland’s School of Dentistry spoke about the findings. He commented that “a small but vocal group of people sometimes claims that water fluoridation can have adverse neurodevelopment effects, especially in young children” .
However, Do continued by saying “there was no difference in child development and function related to fluoridated water” . Continuing, Do said that “our research provides reassurance that it is safe and supports its expansion into more communities” .
Professor Do went on to comment on the oral benefits too of fluoridated water. He said that “this is an important message because fluoride is extremely effective in preventing tooth decay and its use in water and toothpaste is credited with significant improvements in child dental health in Australia” .
When we see results and evidence like this, it is natural to wonder if there will be an increased uptake in water fluoridation. It continues to be a contentious topic, but it may become more common over the forthcoming years.
Certainly, these results reaffirm the belief that water fluoridation is safe. Given the dental benefits too of the practice, it is hopeful that more people will receive the benefits of fluoridated water.
1) Whether or not you have access to water fluoridation, you still need to remember to have excellent oral hygiene. While water fluoridation can help, it cannot replace regular toothbrushing and flossing. An important part of oral hygiene is attending regular dental check-ups. This gives a chance for a dentist to examine your mouth, give their thoughts, offer advice and suggest treatment if necessary. We highly recommend that you book an appointment soon!
2) What is your opinion on water fluoridation? Maybe you are in support of it, or maybe you are against it. But this evidence shows there are many positives to it. Have a discussion with those around you, and see what the general opinion is. Also consider speaking to your dentist about it at your next check-up, which you should do twice a year.
What we offer at Taradale Dental
Taradale Dental is a Calgary dental clinic that provide its patients with a range of treatment options and advice aimed at improving oral health.
It is crucial to brush your teeth at least twice a day and to floss regularly. Moreover, eating healthily and trying to avoid sugary foods and drink is important.
We advise our patients to attend our Calgary-based dental clinic twice a year for a regular dental check-up. When problems are detected, we have many treatments available. For instance, these include cavity fillings and root canals.
Here at Taradale Dental, we also have some cosmetic treatments available! These include dental implants, tooth whitening and Invisalign™! Many people find that these treatments have a positive impact on their appearance, confidence and self-esteem.
In addition, all of our services at our Calgary dental clinic Taradale Dental are in line with the Alberta Dental Fee Guide.
 Iheozor-Ejiofor, Z., Worthington, H. V., Walsh T., O’Malley, L., Clarkson, J. E., Macey, R., Alam, R., Tugwell, P., Welch, V., & Glenny, A-M. (2015). Water fluoridation for the prevention of dental caries. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 18 (6): CD010856. DOI: https:/www.doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD010856.pub2.
 Slade, G. D., Grider, W. B., Maas, W. R., & Sanders, A. E. (2018). Water Fluoridation and Dental Caries in U.S. Children and Adolescents. Journal of Dental Research. 97 (10): p1122-1128. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0022034518774331.
 University of Queensland. (2022). Research shows water fluoridation is safe for children. Available: https://www.uq.edu.au/news/article/2022/09/research-shows-water-fluoridation-safe-children?. Last accessed: 22nd October 2022.
 Do, L. G., Spender, A. J., Sawyer, A., Jones, A., Leary, S., Roberts, R., & Ha, D. H. (2022). Early Childhood Exposures to Fluorides and Child Behavioral Development and Executive Function: A Population-Based Longitudinal Study. Journal of Dental Research. (Pre-publication issue). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/00220345221119431.