To date, no systematic reviews have found fluoride to be effective in preventing dental caries in adults. The objective of this meta-analysis was to examine the effectiveness of self- and professionally applied fluoride and water fluoridation among adults. We used a random-effects model to estimate the effect size of fluoride (absolute difference in annual caries increment or relative risk ratio) for all adults aged 20+ years and for adults aged 40+ years. Twenty studies were included in the final body of evidence. Among studies published after/during 1980, any fluoride (self- and professionally applied or water fluoridation) annually averted 0.29 (95%CI: 0.16-0.42) carious coronal and 0.22 (95%CI: 0.08-0.37) carious root surfaces. The prevented fraction for water fluoridation was 27% (95%CI: 19%-34%). These findings suggest that fluoride prevents caries among adults of all ages.
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