Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Arizona Compares Fluoride Levels in Tap and Bottled Water in a U.S-Mexico Border Community

Compared to the general U.S. population, Arizona counties along the U.S.-Mexico border have a higher prevalence of dental caries which can be reduced with adequate fluoride exposure. Because of concern regarding local tap water quality, fluoride-free bottled water consumption is common in this region, raising concern that families are not receiving adequate fluoride to promote dental health.

[Photo: Dr. Kerton R. Victory]

Researchers from the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, conducted a study to evaluate the levels of fluoride in tap and bottled water as well as the use of fluoride supplements in an Arizona border community. The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health.

Low-income Latino households (n = 90) who report use of bottled water as their primary source of water intake were recruited. Participants completed a questionnaire about their and their children’s dental histories and use of fluoride supplements. Water samples (bottled and tap) were collected from a subset of households (n = 30) for analysis of fluoride.

The investigators found fluoride detection levels were significantly greater in tap water than in bottled water, yet, the majority were below the range for optimal dental health. Concentration of fluoride in the majority of bottled water samples was below the quantitative detection limit. Children were significantly less likely to have dental caries if they received fluoride varnishing treatments, lived in households that reported using fluoridated mouthwash, their parents received fluoride education, and their parents reported visiting a dentist yearly. None of the participants reported receiving recommendations from health-care providers about fluoride supplementation or variance in content by the type of water consumed.

Although fluoride was significantly more likely to be detected in tap than bottled water, neither water source in this border community is likely to provide enough fluoride for optimal dental health.

First author Dr. Kerton Victory said the findings suggest low-income children in this region may benefit from regular access to fluoride varnishing treatments and/or use of fluoridated mouthwash, interventions that could be tested in future well-designed trials.

Dr. Victory is an epidemiologist in the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Office of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He is an alum of the UA Zuckerman College of Public Health and the study was his dissertation as a PhD candidate in the Environmental Health Sciences program. Dr. Kerton also has a MS in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Arizona.

Comparison of Fluoride Levels in Tap and Bottled Water and Reported Use of Fluoride Supplementation in a United States–Mexico Border Community

Frontiers in Public Health, April 27, 2017

Kerton R. Victory, Nolan L. Cabrera, Daniela Larson, Kelly A. Reynolds, Joyce Latura, Cynthia A. Thomson, and Paloma I. Beamer

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