Benefits of Fluoride
There is no doubt that fluoride plays a protective role against tooth decay throughout life. Community water fluoridation is the single most effective public health measure we have to prevent cavities and improve oral health!
How Fluoride Works
During childhood, when teeth are still forming, fluoride works by making tooth enamel more resistant to acids that cause tooth decay. In adolescents and adults, fluoride helps repair the early stages of tooth decay, even before they are visible in the mouth! In fact, studies indicate that people who drink optimally fluoridated water from birth will experience approximately 35 percent less cavities over their lifetimes.
Fluoride is safe and effective when used appropriately. More than 50 years of research and experience have shown that fluoridation at optimal levels does not harm people or the environment. Fluoridation of community water supplies is supported by the American Dental Association, the U.S. Public Health Service, the American Medical Association and the World Health Organization. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has proclaimed community water fluoridation as one of ten great public health achievements of the 20th century.
Parents often worry about too much fluoride, a condition that can cause dental fluorosis. Dr. Parker and his staff will assess the amount of fluoride your child is receiving from drinking water, toothpaste, mouth rinses and in-office fluoride treatments, and will consider the need for a dietary fluoride supplement. It’s also a good idea to teach small children to use a “pea sized” amount of toothpaste for brushing.
Sources of Fluoride
Make sure all members of your family, especially children, take in fluoride every day!
Some communities have naturally fluoridated water supplies. If your community’s water supply has low levels of fluoride, fluoride can be added to the water to bring it to optimal levels. If you are unsure about the fluoride level of your community’s water, ask Dr. Parker and/or contact your local/state health department or water supplier.
If your water is not fluoridated, speak to Dr. Parker about how you and your family, especially your children, can get the appropriate amount of fluoride. Children who regularly drink bottled water, well water, or unfluoridated tap water should get their fluoride in some other way. Dietary fluoride supplements (tablets, drops or lozenges) can be an effective alternative to water fluoridation for the prevention of tooth decay. These supplements – for use by children ages six months to 16 years living in non-fluoridated areas – are available by prescription from Dr. Parker or your child’s physician.
Bottled Water and Fluoride
Unfortunately, many bottled waters do not contain optimal levels of fluoride. Some brands contain no fluoride, some have fluoride naturally, and some companies add fluoride to the water. Check the label or contact the manufacturer directly to ask about fluoride content.
Selecting Home Water Treatment Systems
Individuals who drink or cook with water processed by home water systems (particularly reverse osmosis systems for distillation units) could be missing the decay preventative effects of their optimally fluoridated community water supply. Questions regarding the effect a specific home water treatment system might have on fluoride levels should be directed to the system’s manufacturer.
To Learn More About Fluoride
Check the American Dental Association for the latest information about fluoride and fluoridation.