Fluoridation of Drinking Water - Review Abstract and Protocol
Abstract of researchMany studies and reviews are available on fluoridation, but no systematic review has been undertaken. The aim of this systematic review was to assess the evidence on the efficacy and safety of population wide drinking water fluoridation strategies to prevent caries. To achieve this aim four objectives were identified:
- Assessment of the positive effects of fluoridation of public water supplies in preventing caries (is a causal relationship likely?).
- If fluoridation is shown to have positive effects, what is the effect over and above that offered by the use of alternative interventions and strategies (i.e. fluoridated toothpaste, educational programmes, and increased self awareness of health issues?).
- Assessment of the negative health effects of fluoridation.
- Determination of whether fluoridation results in a reduction of caries across social groups and between geographical locations.
Policy relevance of the researchThe overall debate regarding a national policy decision on water fluoridation centres on four major issues:
- The likely positive effects (reduction in average levels of caries and its distribution)
- The likely positive effects above that offered from other interventions (e.g. fluoridated toothpastes)
- Negative health effects
- Ethical, environmental and legal issues
This research would provide answers to the first three of these four issues by preparation of a systematic review of the best available research evidence.