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two-thirds of Americans, fluoride is added to your tap water for the purpose of reducing cavities.

“This study does not support the use of fluoride in drinking water.” Trevor Sheldon concurred.

Sheldon is the dean of the Hull York Medical School in the United Kingdom who led the advisory board that conducted a systematic review of water fluoridation in 2000, that came to similar conclusions as the Cochrane review.

Cochrane Collaboration, a group of doctors and researchers known for their comprehensive reviews—which are widely regarded as the gold standard of scientific rigor in assessing effectiveness of public health policies—recently set out to find out if fluoridation reduces cavities.

They reviewed every study done on fluoridation that they could find, and then winnowed down the collection to only the most comprehensive, well-designed and reliable papers.

But more than two-thirds percent of the studies showing this took place more than 40 years ago, and are not of high quality.

Nearly all these papers were flawed in significant ways.Then they analyzed these studies’ results, and published their conclusion in a review earlier this month.The review identified only three studies since 1975—of sufficient quality to be included—that addressed the effectiveness of fluoridation on tooth decay in the population at large.They write: “We have limited confidence in the size of this effect due to the high risk of bias within the studies and the lack of contemporary evidence.” Six of the nine studies were from before 1975, before fluoride toothpaste was widely available.The review also found fluoridation was associated with a 14 percent increase in the number of children without any cavities.The authors also found only two studies since 1975 that looked at the effectiveness of reducing cavities in baby teeth, and found fluoridation to have no statistically significant impact here, either.