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Tennessee Dental Caries Prevention: Fluoride Levels in Community Water Systems (CWSs)

The Tennessee Dental Caries Prevention Project evaluated the Tennessee Oral Health Plan program’s spatial selection of intervention efforts. The project assessed if dental services in Tennessee are in the areas of greatest need. The ‘area of greatest need’ was defined as a community served by a water system that did not meet the recommended American Dental Association (ADA) fluoridation level to prevent dental caries (i.e., cavities), 0.7 parts per million. Priori analysis conducted by the Tennessee Department of Health used aggregated county-level fluoride measures.

The DWJL team used community system water estimated service area boundaries (CWS ESABs) that the DWJL constructed to refine the prior analysis. Notable findings were that approximately 40% of the CWSs in Tennessee do not meet the ADA-recommended fluoride level to prevent dental caries. And the spatial distribution of those CWSs represents about 139,500 Tennesseans that do not have a TDH Oral Health intervention program in their community. TDH has delayed following up with Ashley about these findings because of COVID-19. The intent is to review results with Ashley in spring 2022 to prepare a manuscript to submit to a peer-reviewed journal.

Research Assistant: Ashley Kim

Faculty Advisors: Dr. Ke Jack Ding, Dr. Yolanda J. McDonald, & Dr. Derek K. Smith

Academic Work:

  • Kim, Ashley. Are dental services located where they need to be: A Tennessee case study (poster: presenter). Vanderbilt University Undergraduate Research Fair, Fall 2021.

Theoretical Frameworks: