Salt fluoridation and oral health.
The aim of this paper is to make known the potential of fluoridated salt in community oral health programs, particularly in South Eastern Europe. Since 1922, the addition of iodine to salt has been successful in Switzerland. Goiter is virtually extinct. By 1945, the caries-protective effect of fluorides was well established. Based on the success of water fluoridation, a gynecologist started adding of fluoride to salt. The sale of fluoridated salt began in 1956 in the Swiss Canton of Zurich, and several other cantons followed suit. Studies initiated in the early seventies showed that fluoride, when added to salt, inhibits dental caries. The addition of fluoride to salt for human consumption was officially authorized in 1980-82. In Switzerland 85% of domestic salt consumed is fluoridated and 67% in Germany. Salt fluoridation schemes are reaching more than one hundred million in Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Cuba. The cost of salt fluoridation is very low, within 0.02 and 0.05 € per year and capita. Children and adults of the low socio-economic strata tend to have substantially more untreated caries than higher strata. Salt fluoridation is by far the cheapest method for improving oral health.
Salt fluoridation has cariostatic potential like water fluoridation (caries reductions up to 50%). In Europe, meaningful percentages of users have been attained only in Germany (67%) and Switzerland (85%). In Latin America, there are more than 100 million users, and several countries have arrived at coverage of 90 to 99%. Salt fluoridation is by far the cheapest method of caries prevention, and billions of people throughout the world could benefit from this method.