Lead Author Affiliation

Dental Hygiene

Lead Author Program & Year

Dental Hygiene

Second Author Program & Year

Faculty/Staff/Researcher

Presentation Category

Research

Introduction/Context/Diagnosis

Over many years, the prevalence of dental caries has generally declined where the prevalence of neurodevelopmental disorders has increased. Is there a possible connection to water fluoridation? Is this increase in prevalence due to our ability to diagnose these conditions, or a different environmental factor? This study covers fluoride toxicity, caries prevention, and fluoride’s possible correlation to cognitive impairments utilizing a literature review. Fluoride has undeniably been shown to reduce dental caries but is now considered a developmental neurotoxicant according to the United States Department of Health and Human Services. This study found multiple conflicting results for and against fluoride contributing to the prevalence of neurodevelopmental disorders such as Autism and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. There is currently insufficient evidence to conclude whether there is a link between water fluoridation and neurodevelopmental disorders. Fluoride’s classification as a developmental neurotoxicant requires us to further research its systemic effects on the human body to thoroughly identify any connections between the rise in developmental disabilities and water fluoridation. Since we already have many communities with an established fluoridated water supply, and many without added fluoride, this subject may be studied using retrospective data comparing statistics of the prevalence of multiple conditions from fluoridated versus non-fluoridated communities.

There has been controversy regarding the use of fluoride basically since its implementation to prevent dental caries. More recently in 2014, the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published an article that placed fluoride in the same category as lead, as a developmental neurotoxicant. (Grandjean, 2014) It is absolutely crucial that we study this more closely. Thorough research on this topic is vital for the health and safety of our communities which is of the utmost importance. We need to be well informed to make appropriate decisions regarding the use of fluoride, thus confidently easing anxiety regarding the use of fluoride. More data must be collected on this subject to fully understand the implications of fluoridating our public water supplies as this impacts everyone.

Methods/Treatment Plan

This study explores possible connections between water fluoridation and the prevalence of developmental disabilities as well as the prevalence of dental caries since its implementation by way of a literature review.

Results/Outcome

There is insufficient evidence to clearly conclude if there is a link between the prevalence of Autism and ADHD with exposure to fluoride. Since we already have many communities with an established fluoridated water supply and many without fluoridation, this subject may be most conveniently studied using retrospective data comparing statistics of the prevalence of multiple conditions from fluoridated and non-fluoridated communities. Fluoride may have an effect on both ADHD and Autism prevalence, but as previously mentioned, more research is needed to more thoroughly identify any connections between the rise in developmental disabilities and water fluoridation.

Significance/Conclusions

Fluoride has been shown to have a positive impact on the dental caries rates of those exposed for many years. This study found no evidence of fluoride having no effect or an increase in dental caries as a result of fluoride exposure. Community water fluoridation has been decreasing the prevalence of dental caries for 76 years now but it may be advantageous to promptly conduct studies on this subject to deepen our understanding of the pharmacology of fluoride. Another literature review concluded that “since the fluoride benefit is mainly topical, perhaps it is better to deliver fluoride directly to the tooth instead of ingesting it.” (Aoun et al., 2018) Until further research is conducted to fully understand the effects of fluoride on the human nervous system it may be advisable to exercise caution with the intake of systemically absorbed fluoride. Fluoride has been known to cause toxicity for many years but only more recently was it categorized as a neurotoxic agent. More data is absolutely necessary to better understand this ubiquitous soluble ion in order to have the ability to confidently advise the public regarding its use to protect against dental caries.

Comments/Acknowledgements

Thank you to my mentor, Professor Benjamin D. Zeitlin Ph.D., Professor Lory Laughter, RDH, MS, and Professor Elena Francisco, RDHAP, MS for all your guidance in this project!

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Water Fluoridation in Relationship to the Prevalence of Neurodevelopmental Disorders

Over many years, the prevalence of dental caries has generally declined where the prevalence of neurodevelopmental disorders has increased. Is there a possible connection to water fluoridation? Is this increase in prevalence due to our ability to diagnose these conditions, or a different environmental factor? This study covers fluoride toxicity, caries prevention, and fluoride’s possible correlation to cognitive impairments utilizing a literature review. Fluoride has undeniably been shown to reduce dental caries but is now considered a developmental neurotoxicant according to the United States Department of Health and Human Services. This study found multiple conflicting results for and against fluoride contributing to the prevalence of neurodevelopmental disorders such as Autism and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. There is currently insufficient evidence to conclude whether there is a link between water fluoridation and neurodevelopmental disorders. Fluoride’s classification as a developmental neurotoxicant requires us to further research its systemic effects on the human body to thoroughly identify any connections between the rise in developmental disabilities and water fluoridation. Since we already have many communities with an established fluoridated water supply, and many without added fluoride, this subject may be studied using retrospective data comparing statistics of the prevalence of multiple conditions from fluoridated versus non-fluoridated communities.

There has been controversy regarding the use of fluoride basically since its implementation to prevent dental caries. More recently in 2014, the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published an article that placed fluoride in the same category as lead, as a developmental neurotoxicant. (Grandjean, 2014) It is absolutely crucial that we study this more closely. Thorough research on this topic is vital for the health and safety of our communities which is of the utmost importance. We need to be well informed to make appropriate decisions regarding the use of fluoride, thus confidently easing anxiety regarding the use of fluoride. More data must be collected on this subject to fully understand the implications of fluoridating our public water supplies as this impacts everyone.