"Community water fluoridation is a sound public health investment for people of all ages," said Gerardo Maupomé, B.D.S., M.Sc., Ph.D., one of the authors, in a press release. "Our finding that fluoridated water lowered the number of dental fillings confirms studies on younger people but breaks new ground on older individuals.Another telling factor: many older and retired adults often lack dental insurance, so prevention of decay is very important."
Researchers studied dental HMO subscribers -- with one or more dental visits a year -- in the Portland metro (OR), Marion County (OR), and Clark County(WA) area over a period of six years. All three areas had community water fluoridated (CWF), and non-fluoridated (NF) water districts. The studied populations were divided into children, adults, and seniors.
Some of the study's notable findings:
- The total cost of dental treatment in the CWF districts of Marion County and Clark County was lower compared to their NF districts. However, the cost of dental treatment in Portland was higher in its CWF districts.
- Seniors saw the greatest oral health benefits from fluoridated water.
- Mean dental expense over the course of the study for an 80-year-old in a NF district of Marion County was $1,882; in a CWF district, it was $1,686.
- For a 10-year-old in a NF district of Marion County, mean dental expense was $1,097; in a CWF district, it was $1,086.
- Mean cost of restorative procedures for an 80-year-old in a NF district of Clark County was $590; in a CWF district it was $523.
- The mean cost of restorative procedures for a 10-year-old in a NF district of Clark County was $293; in a CWF district, it was $237.
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