June 14 (UPI) -- U.S. children and adolescents with greater access to fluoridated drinking water are less likely to experience dental decay, according to a new analysis of data.
Researchers from North Carolina, Maryland and the U.S. Census Bureau studied information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 's Water Fluoridation Reporting System and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys from 1999-2004 and 2011-2014. Their findings were published Thursday in the Journal of Dental Research.
The research included 7,000 children aged 2-8 and 12,604 older children and adults.
"This study confirms previously reported findings and provides additional evidence in support of water fluoridation as a core public health intervention promoting oral health," said Maria Ryan, president of the American Association for Dental Research. "AADR supports community water fluoridation as a safe and effective, evidence-based intervention for the prevention of dental caries [cavities] and this report further adds to that evidence base."
In a 2017 study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, American children and adolescents who do not drink tap water were found to be much more likely to have tooth decay. Studied were 16,000 children and adolescents 2 to 19 years who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2005 to 2014.
The CDC named community water fluoridation as one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century based on the large decline in cavities for the past 70 years. In 2014, the CDC reported that 74 percent of the U.S. population on public water systems had access to fluoridated water.
Since fluoride started to be included in public water supplies, it has reduced childhood cavities by an estimated 40 to 70 percent, the CDC said.
Although community water fluoridation is recommended by nearly all public health, medical and dental organizations, some communities have chosen not to add the mineral to the water.
The Fluoride Action Network on its website "seeks to broaden awareness among citizens, scientists and policymakers on the toxicity of fluoride compounds." It says fluoride is a major industrial air pollutant and a key ingredient in some pesticides and fumigants, and causes bone disease.
The new study found the benefit was notable early in life -- in the primary teeth of 2-8 year olds.
In the study, counties in which more than 75 percent of the population had access to community water fluoridation had a 30 percent reduction in dental cavities among baby teeth and 12 percent fewer in permanent teeth.