Fluoridation of water supplies, long ago proved to protect children from cavities, also helps older adults keep their teeth, a new study from Ireland has shown.
But fluoridation had no effect on overall bone density in the aged, a result that surprised the study’s authors because fluoridation had been shown to increase bone mass.
The study, part of the Irish Longitudinal Study on Aging, was done by researchers at the dentistry school of Trinity College Dublin and involved almost 5,000 adults older than 50.
Participants were asked to indicate roughly how many of their teeth they had; some had their bone density measured with ultrasound.
Those who lived in areas with fluoridated water were more likely to report having all their teeth, the researchers found.
Fluoridation began in Ireland in 1964 and became universal in most urban areas by 1970. About 85 percent of the country has fluoridated water; areas with private wells often do not.
As in the United States, fluoridation was controversial, even though numerous studies found it safe.
Healthy teeth have long been linked to general well-being in older adults. In recent decades, studies have linked gum and tooth disease to heart disease. The leading theory was that oral infections and inflammation reached the heart through the blood.
But a literature review by the American Heart Association concluded in 2012 that there was no proof that periodontal disease caused heart disease.
Source: The New York Times