A retrospective view on the viability of water fluoridation in South Africa to prevent dental caries.
The National Oral Health Survey showed that differences in the prevalence and experience of dental caries occurred between racial groups and between geographical areas according to fluoride levels in the domestic water supply that varied from <0.05 ppm in the coastal areas to 0.35 ppm in the Bloemfontein area. The Orange Free State (OFS) Goldfields were not included in the survey. The fluoride content of the water supply to this community varies from 0.2 to 0.9 ppm, with a long term average of 0.54 ppm. A survey was conducted in this area to determine the effect of the raised fluoride level on the caries levels in Black and White children. The results show that caries levels in Black children in the OFS Goldfields are >50 per cent and >80 per cent lower than that found in the Bloemfontein and coastal areas respectively. In the OFS Goldfields 39 per cent of White and 16 per cent of Black 12 year old children presented with dental fluorosis on the maxillary central incisors. The results of this study seem to indicate that Black children will benefit more from water fluoridation than White children.