• Fluoride in Water: Does It Matter?

    Fluoride in WaterAround two-thirds of the U.S. population in 39 states are currently receiving fluoridated water, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    This number has only grown in the last 70 years, when communities first started adding fluoride to community water supplies to fight tooth decay. The CDC considers fluoridation one of the biggest public health successes of the last century.

    What is Fluoride, and How Does It Work?

    Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral that occurs naturally in water, soil, food, and other locations. In fact, it is the 13th must abundant element on the earth’s crust. However, it isn’t necessarily present in water in a high enough concentration to boost human health. Fluoride protects from demineralization caused by the acids in our food that erode teeth enamel. It also accumulates in the demineralized areas and begins strengthening the enamel.

    The National Health Service notes that fluoride alters the structure of enamel so it is more resistant to acids. It creates an environment for better quality enamel to be formed and reduces the bacteria in plaque’s ability to produce acid. Most public health authorities and medical associations around the world recommend that children and adults receive minimum levels of fluoride. That’s why local governments started approving the addition of fluoride to water supplies in the mid-20th century.

    Is Fluoride Bad for You?

    In very large concentrations, fluoride can lead to a condition called fluorosis, which leads to faint white specks on teeth. There’s no pain, and the function of teeth isn’t affected. Extremely severe cases can lead to brown coloration on the teeth, but this level of fluoridation rarely occurs in the U.S. Some people claim that fluoride leads to cancers and other illnesses. However, thousands of reputable studies have shown otherwise.

    Fluoridated water has been proven safe for babies and kids. It has been shown to reduce tooth decay later in life for children who drank fluoridated water as their teeth grew.

    Does Fluoride Make A Difference to Public Health?

    Numerous studies have proven that adding fluoride to shared water systems is beneficial to health. It has reduced the amount of tooth decay in its communities, sometimes by up to 50 percent in children and adolescents and up to 27 percent in adults, according to separate studies.

    In addition, fluoridation is cost-effective, because it reduces the amount of money citizens and their communities have to pay in terms of work time lost, pain and discomfort, and dental treatment, both in regular dentists’ offices and in emergency rooms. Data shows that cities, states, and countries saved huge amounts of money by fluoridating water. Fluoridation is an investment that has paid off for many municipalities.

    Fluoridation practices have been in place for decades, and continue to be a safe and effective way of safeguarding citizens’ oral health. If you have questions about this practice and its effect on you, consult your dentist and find out more.

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