50 American Dental Association effect based on suggestive but inconclusive evidence that severe dental fluorosis (characterized by pitting of the enamel) increased the risk of tooth decay. All members of the committee agreed that the condition damages the tooth and that the EPA standard should prevent the occurrence of this unwanted condition. The prevalence of severe enamel fluorosis is very low below 2 mg/L of fluoride in drinking water in the U.S.9 Additional information on this topic can be found in this Section, Questions 20 and 21. The vast majority of dental fluorosis in the United States is the very mild or mild type. This type of dental fluorosis is not readily apparent to the affected individual or casual observer and often requires a trained specialist to detect. Limited research on the psychological effects of dental fluorosis on children and adults has been conducted. However, a 2009 literature review that assessed the relationships between perceptions of dental appearance/oral health related quality of life (OHRQoL) and dental fluorosis concluded that very mild to mild dental fluorosis has little impact and in some cases evidence suggested enhanced quality of life with mild dental fluorosis.78 When evaluating the oral health related quality of life of children by tooth decay (cavities) and dental fluorosis experience, a 2007 study concluded that cavities were associated with a negative impact while mild dental fluorosis had a positive impact on children’s and parents’ quality of life.79 Very mild to mild dental fluorosis has no effect on tooth function and can make the tooth enamel more resistant to decay. A study published in 200967 investigated the relationship between dental fluorosis and tooth decay in U.S. schoolchildren. The study concluded that teeth with dental fluorosis were more resistant to tooth decay than were teeth without dental fluorosis. Not only should the cavity preventive benefits of fluoridation be considered when evaluating policy to introduce or retain water fluoridation, but the cavity preventive benefits of mild dental fluorosis should also be considered.67 Very mild to mild dental fluorosis has no effect on tooth function and can make the tooth enamel more resistant to decay. A report published in 201075 described the prevalence (total percentage of cases in a population) of dental fluorosis in the United States and discussed the changes in the prevalence and severity of dental fluorosis among adolescents between 1986-1987 and 1999-2004. The report used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 1999-2004 and the 1986-1987 National Survey of Oral Health in U.S. School Children. The data represented persons from 6 to 49-years of age and varied races and ethnicities including non-Hispanic black and Mexican-American persons. The oral exams for both surveys were conducted by trained dental examiners and included a dental fluorosis assessment of permanent teeth. The Dean’s Fluorosis Index was used to determine the prevalence and severity of dental fluorosis. The data published in 201075 showed that less than one-quarter of persons aged 6-49 in the United States had some form of dental fluorosis. For the remaining three-quarters of persons in this age group, 60.6% were unaffected by dental fluorosis and 16.5% were classified as having questionable dental fluorosis. The percent distribution of the types of dental fluorosis in persons aged 6-49 years observed was: Very mild fluorosis 16.0% Mild fluorosis 4.8% Moderate fluorosis 2.0% Severe fluorosis less than 1% While moderate and severe dental fluorosis comprise less than 3% of dental fluorosis in all persons aged 6-49, the prevalence of moderate or severe dental fluorosis in this age group comprised a very small portion (less than 10%) of the total number of all cases of dental fluorosis. In other words, approximately 90% of all dental fluorosis observed was very mild to mild form.75 In regards to dental fluorosis in adolescents, children aged 12-15 years in 1999-2004 had higher prevalence of dental fluorosis compared with the same aged children in 1986-1987.75
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