The History and Benefits of Community Water Fluoridation

san rafael and san francisco dentistSAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – Today when we drink water from the tap, we are likely consuming water fortified with an optimum concentration of fluoride.

The great fluoride debate continues, even though it has shown extreme success at decreasing cavities, especially in children of lower income families. Not all parents make sure their children floss and brush properly. Not all parents buy fluorinated toothpaste or mouthwash for their children. And not all adults practice good oral health. Including an effective level of fluoride that is easily accessible can decrease cavities and, by association, lower the need for dental treatment.

Some children may not see a dentist regularly, but low levels of fluoride in drinking water can help protect their teeth. Adults and children both benefit from fluoridation through drinking tap water, preparing food with tap water, and making beverages such as lemonade or tea with tap water.

San Francisco cosmetic dentist Dr. Greg Larson wants to inform his patients on the benefits of community fluoridation while stressing the importance of regular dental visits for optimum oral health.

The Centers for Disease Control listed water fluoridation among the 20th century’s Ten Greatest Public Health Achievements alongside vaccinations, motor vehicle safety, family planning and identifying tobacco as a health risk. Tooth decay is the most common lasting disease in kids between 6 and 11 years old, shares San Francisco teeth whitening expert. It’s four times more likely your child will have tooth decay than asthma, according to the CDC. Fluorinated water lowers our risks of tooth decay by about 25 percent throughout our lifetime. The American Dental Association reports that fluoride-fortified water reduces our chances of tooth decay between 20 and 40 percent.

Water naturally contains fluoride, though natural levels vary according to location. Dental researchers in the 1930s noticed that people in areas with higher fluoride concentrations had fewer and less severe instances of tooth decay. The first U.S. community to amend their fluoride levels was Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1945. Today, the CDC reports that 73.9 percent of Americans receive water from public systems that are adjusted for ideal fluoride content, and 100 million Americans don’t have fluorinated water.

Community fluoridation means that communities tweak the natural levels of fluoride in their water to fall within the ideal fluoride range of 0.7 and 1.2 milligrams per liter. In 2010 the Department of Health and Human Services called on a group of scientists to reevaluate the recommended fluoride levels.

“The scientists reviewed the best available information on: the prevalence and trends in dental caries, water intake in children in relation to outdoor air temperature, changes in the percentage of U.S. children and adults with dental fluorosis, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s new assessments of cumulative sources of fluoride exposure and risks of children developing severe dental fluorosis,” according to the CDC.

The panel decided that in light of these changes, the recommended fluoride levels be reduced slightly to 0.7 milligrams per liter.

Fluoridation brings a majority of Americans extra defense against tooth decay. Fluoride is added to community water supplies in one of three forms – as sodium fluoride, hexafluorosilicic acid or sodium fluorosilicate. Fluoride levels are easily controllable, and in most cases levels can be changed almost immediately.

Water fluoridation is an easy and inexpensive way to prevent tooth decay.

“Fluoridation is one public health program that actually saves money,” the ADA reports. “An individual can have a lifetime of fluoridated water for less than the cost of one dental filling.”

Some people opposed to community fluoridation worry about children developing dental fluorosis, as Oakland dentist believes. Children 8 years old and younger can develop dental fluorosis in response to high levels of fluoride. Fluorosis can’t affect erupted teeth, so once all teeth have broken through the gums, there is no risk of fluorosis. The ADA reports that fluorosis is normally detected by white spots on teeth. Most fluorosis is so mild that only dental professionals will notice the discoloration.

Visit the CDC’s My Water’s Fluoride system to find out about your community’s water fluoridation. Not all states that have fluorinated water are included in this database. Contact your local water supplier for the most specific information on your community’s water supply. Some water filters can either reduce or eliminate fluoride.

Dr. Larson can improve smiles with Invisalign treatment in San Rafael, mini dental implants, porcelain veneers and teeth whitening. We provide dentistry with a smile. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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