Benefits l Fluoridation Facts 25 before in part due to water fluoridation. Adults with gum recession are at risk for root decay because the root surface, a much softer tooth surface than enamel, becomes exposed to decay-causing bacteria in the mouth as gums recede. Data from the ongoing NHANES survey indicate that root decay experience has declined in recent years among older adults with teeth (ages 65-years and older), decreasing from 46% (NHANES 1988-1994) to 36% (NHANES 1999-2004). However, the prevalence of root decay increases markedly as adults age and escalates more rapidly after age 65. Specifically, the 75-years and older group had 23% greater prevalence of root surface decay than did the 65- to 74-years-old age group.72 While most studies related to the prevention of root decay focus on professional fluoride treatments such as fluoride varnish, there is evidence that demonstrates fluoridation may have an impact on root decay.73-75 For example, in Ontario, Canada, lifelong residents of the nonfluoridated community of Woodstock had a 21% higher root surface decay experience than those living in the naturally fluoridated (1.6 ppm) matched community of Stratford.74 Similarly, Iowa residents more than 40 years of age living long-term in fluoridated communities had significantly less root decay than lifelong residents of nonfluoridated communities (0.56 versus 1.11 surfaces).75 Adults in the U.S. are keeping their natural teeth longer partially due to exposure to water fluoridation. But as adults age with their teeth, it means more teeth will be at risk for tooth decay. It has been suggested in the literature that decay experience for adults could increase to the point where older adults experience similar or higher levels of new cavities than do school children.35,76,77 It continues to be important to document and acknowledge the effectiveness of fluoridation in preventing tooth decay in adults because virtually all primary preventive dental programs target children and adolescents with one exception community water fluoridation. Fluoridation is unique in that it remains the one dental public health measure that reaches all members of a community including young, middle-aged and older adults.56 Fluoridation is unique in that it remains the one dental public health measure that reaches all members of a community including young, middle-aged and older adults. 12. Are dietary fluoride supplements effective in helping to prevent tooth decay? Answer. Yes. Dietary fluoride supplements can be effective in preventing tooth decay. Fact. Dietary fluoride supplements are available only by prescription in the United States and are intended for use by children who are at high risk for developing tooth decay and living in areas where the primary source of water is deficient in fluoride.8 Recommendations for health professionals seeking to prescribe dietary fluoride supplements are found in The Evidence-Based Clinical Recommendations on the Prescription of Dietary Fluoride: A Report of the American Dental Association Council on Scientific Affairs published in 2010.8 The report and a Chairside Guide: Dietary Fluoride Supplements: Evidence-based Clinical Recommendations can be accessed at http:// supplements. The current dietary fluoride supplement schedule appears in this section as Table 1. Additional information on this topic can be found in this Section, Question 13. As noted in Table 3 of the report, “Clinical recommendations for the use of dietary fluoride supplements:” The expert panel convened by the American Dental Association Council on Scientific Affairs developed the following recommendations. They are intended as a resource for dentists and other health care providers. The recommendations must be balanced with the practitioner’s professional judgment and the individual patient’s needs and preferences. Children are exposed to multiple sources of fluoride. The expert panel encourages health care providers to evaluate all potential fluoride sources and to conduct a caries risk assessment before prescribing fluoride supplements. As noted in the recommendations, prior to prescribing dietary fluoride supplements, accurate assessment of the fluoride content of the patient’s primary drinking water source(s) should be conducted.8 The identification of the “primary” sources is sometimes
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