Journal Of Dental Research Centennial July 2019: Fluoride Revolution And Dental Caries


2019 marks the Centennial of the Journal of Dental Research (JDR). Over the last century the JDR has been dedicated to the dissemination of new knowledge and information on all sciences relevant to dentistry and to the oral cavity and associated structures in health and disease. To celebrate, the JDR is featuring a yearlong, monthly commemorative article and podcast series that highlights topics that have transformed dental, oral and craniofacial research over the past 100 years.

While the global epidemic of dental caries that began about 140 years ago was very largely caused by the rise in sugar consumption, the more recent decline in caries during the last 50 years has been due largely to the use of fluoride. In the second July 2019 issue of the JDR, the article "Fluoride Revolution and Dental Caries: Evolution of Policies for Global Use," by IADR past president Helen Whelton, University College Cork, Ireland, John Spencer, University of Adelaide, Australia, Loc Do, University of Adelaide, Australia and Andrew Rugg-Gunn, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, England, focuses on population-level interventions, which have been predominantly through fluoridation of water supplies and the widespread use of fluoride toothpaste.

"Epidemiological studies over 70 years ago provided the basis for the use of fluorides in caries prevention and revealed the clear relation between fluoride exposure in drinking water and the prevalence and severity of dental fluorosis and dental caries," said Spencer." The proposition that cities with water supplies deficient in fluoride might have their level brought up to inhibit caries emerged in 1943 and 1944. This hypothesis was tested in four community fluoridation trials in the United States and Canada. Those findings showed a marked reduction in caries experience, around 50%, in children and adolescents in the fluoridated cities compared to non-fluoridated control cities or the levels of caries in cities before fluoridation."

"Previously drinking water had been the only significant source of fluoride. Now there are additional sources, most notably fluoridated toothpaste. These two fluoride sources have an additive effect. In many countries in the early 1960s, 12-year-olds had on average five decayed permanent teeth, by age 15 it had gone up to 9, this figure is now less than one for 12-year-olds," said Whelton. "Policy has remained supportive of the use of both community fluoridation where practicable and supportive of affordable fluoridated toothpaste. Fluoride policies have radically improved oral health, enhancing general health and quality of life for populations across the world."

The seventh JDR Centennial podcast, titled "Fluoride Revolution and Dental Caries: Evolution of Policies for Global Use" features a conversation between Spencer, Whelton and Joy Richman, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. 

Throughout 2019 JDR Associate Editor, Nicholas Jakubovics, Newcastle University, England, shares 'Historical Highlights' and archival excerpts from the rich history of research findings published in the JDR. In the second July issue, Jakubovics highlights the article "Bovine Teeth as Possible Substitutes in the Adhesion Test" (Nakamichi I., Iwaku M., Fusayama T. 1983. Bovine Teeth as Possible Substitutes in the Adhesion Test. J Dent Res. 62:1076-1081). Through the 1950s and 1960s, the consumption of sugar rose to peak levels around the world, while a shortage of dentists left many people without adequate dental care. Intact human enamel was becoming more difficult to obtain for scientific research studies and alternatives needed to be found. This influential paper directly compared human and bovine enamel as substrates for adhesion and found essentially no significant differences between the two. This work paved the way for the widespread use of bovine enamel as a substitute for human enamel and enabled research that otherwise would not have been possible.

Along with the article and podcast series, the legacy of the JDR was honored during a celebration at the 97th General Session of the IADR, held in conjunction with the 48th Annual Meeting of the AADR and the 43rd Annual Meeting of the Canadian Association for Dental Research, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on 19th - 22th June 2019.