Preview: Fluoride and kids' teeth - what does the data show?

The KATU Problem Solvers pressured the state of Oregon to release data that could influence your vote on the fluoridation measure in Portland. Ballots for that vote get mailed out on May 3.

The numbers are part of the state's 2012 Smile Survey, which was released to KATU after weeks of phone calls, emails, and Freedom of Information requests.

Dental hygienists documented the oral health of kids in 1st through 3rd grades at 82 elementary schools in the state by counting their cavities. The Oregon Health Authority then used the data to advocate for community-wide fluoridation and other preventive programs.

Among the many findings, the 2012 Smile Survey shows kids in Multnomah County improved their dental health by 10% in the last five years:

  • 2012: 50.7% of kids had one or more cavities
  • 2007: 56.3% of kids had one or more cavities
The state still lags the nation in dental health and has not met the Healthy People 2020 goal set by the federal government.

But what does the survey say about the effectiveness of fluoridation in Oregon? The KATU Problem Solvers got their hands on the survey's raw data and did their own analysis.

Coming up tonight at 6 p.m., KATU's Shellie Bailey-Shah compares how the dental health of kids in fluoridated water districts to non-fluoridated districts. It's an analysis you'll want to see before you cast your vote.