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Adult dental treatment costs greatly reduced by water fluoridation

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Ray Lowry, Emeritus Professor Jimmy Steele CBE


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In this preliminary study, we examined National Health Service (NHS) treatment spending in primary care using routinely-collected data. The Dental Practice Board, the United Kingdom NHS primary dental care administrative organisation, analysed treatment data for 1984 and 1985. Treatments for damage arising mainly from dental caries (fillings, crowns and extractions) were selected. Only treatments to permanent teeth counted. The study was limited to 21-29 year olds living in two fluoridated (Birmingham and Newcastle on Tyne) and two non-fluoridated areas (Wolverhampton and Cleveland). The cohorts were chosen deliberately because these age groups were related to the onset of fluoridation in their respective areas: Birmingham started water fluoridation in 1964, Newcastle in 1969, so in 1985 both cohorts were born into non-fluoridated areas, but of the 1995 cohorts, the Birmingham residents had been born in a fluoridated area whereas only half the Newcastle ones were. For both years of the study, all four areas would have benefited from improvements in dental health due to better diet, fluoridated toothpaste etcetera Both non-fluoridated areas showed a similar drop in total caries-related treatments between 1984 and 1994, but Birmingham showed a significantly increased drop, with Newcastle in between. We costed up the treatment items at today’s NHS prices and can calculate the decline in gross fees (£1 sterling).

Publication metadata

Author(s): Steele J; Lowry R

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: UKPHA Annual Public Health Forum

Year of Conference: 2003