Thoughtful Parenting: Benefits of fluoride |

Thoughtful Parenting: Benefits of fluoride

Lyndi Smith for The Steamboat Today

— Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in water. According to the American Dental Association, fluoride helps prevent cavities in children and adults by being a natural cavity fighter. Fluoride helps resist the attacks of acid that causes cavities. Fluoride can remineralize the enamel to help repair tooth decay in the early stages.

A few of the ways you can benefit from fluoride is systemically and topically. Systemically involves drinking water from a public water supply. While teeth are forming, the fluoride you take in from drinking water helps to strengthen and make the teeth more resistant to cavities. Another way is topically, which can be applied in the dental office or by using toothpaste and mouthwash. The combination of fluoridated water and topical applications rebuilds weakened tooth enamel.

Contrary to public belief, water fluoridation is not only safe and effective, but it is also cost-saving and the least expensive way to deliver the benefits of fluoride to all residents of a community. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, for larger communities of more than 20,000 people, it costs about 50 cents per person to fluoridate the water. It is also cost-effective because every $1 invested in this preventive measure yields approximately $38 savings in dental treatment costs.

In the 1930s, dental scientists documented that the occurrence and severity of tooth decay were lower among people whose water supplies contained higher levels of natural fluoride. Studies followed and discovered that fluoride, when present in the mouth, can become concentrated in plaque and saliva, helping to prevent the breakdown of enamel minerals.

In 1945, a city in Michigan added fluoride to its city water system. Community water fluoridation adjusted the amount of fluoride in an area’s water supply to a level that helped to prevent tooth decay and promoted oral health. Since then, numerous scientific studies and comprehensive reviews have continually recognized fluoridation as an effective way to prevent tooth decay.

Currently, more than 204 million people in the United States are served by public water supplies containing enough fluoride to protect teeth. Even so, approximately 100 million Americans do not have access to fluoridated water.

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Healthy People is the plan that sets health goals for the nation. This plan calls for about 80 percent of the population to be served by optimally fluoridated community water systems by 2020. The current population with access to fluoridated water is approximately 74 percent.

Stated by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the widespread availability of fluoride through water fluoridation, toothpaste and other sources, has resulted in the steady decline of dental caries throughout the United States.

Fluoridation Basice. (n.d.). Retrieved December 19, 2013, from Center for Disease Control Prevention :

Fluoride. (2013). Retrieved December 2013, 2013, from American Dental Association :

Lyndi Smith RDH, is associated with the Northwest Colorado Dental Coalition, which is a partner of First Impressions of Routt County, our local early childhood council.

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