It is common knowledge that fluoride is good for our teeth as it prevents tooth decay. Tooth decay is caused when our oral bacteria manufacture acid from the food we consume. This acid destroys tooth enamel causing considerable pain and inconvenience. That’s great… but why is Fluoride in our drinking water?
Why add Fluoride to water? Why not something else?
Fluoride is helpful in rebuilding the tooth’s enamel. Fluoride works by strengthening the tooth enamel and making it resistant to cavities. Water fluoridation is the process of adding fluoride in drinking water so that it proves beneficial for the teeth. Fluoride consumed through drinking water remains in the saliva and protects the teeth.
Community Water Fluoridation
Fluoride research began around 1901. It gained importance in the 1930s when scientists studied the link between tooth decay in children and natural fluoride present in drinking water. Fluoride is present naturally in the earth and is let out from rocks into the water, soil and atmosphere. But the naturally occurring fluoride found in water is insufficient to avoid tooth decay. Also, some natural sources have excessive levels of fluoride.
The study concluded that children who consumed drinking water with fluoride suffered from less tooth decay. This study proved to be a turning point in the water fluoridation process.
Community water fluoridation began in the year 1945 in the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan with the addition of fluoride to the city water system. The rate of tooth decay among 30,000 school children was monitored as part of the Grand Rapids water fluoridation study. This study was a 15-year project. After 11 years the researchers found that the rate of caries had dropped by over 60% among children born after water fluoridation.
The impact of the study was huge: By the year 2016, almost 73% population in the United States received fluoridated water.
Due to its effectiveness community water fluoridation has been named as one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century by Centers for Disease Control (CDC). More than 125 national and international agencies like the CDC, the American Medical Association, World Health Organisation and American Dental Association acknowledge the advantages of water fluoridation in preventing tooth decay. A level of 0.7 milligrams per liter of water is the recommended fluoride level in community water systems.
Advantages of Fluoride in Water
Prevents Tooth Decay
Tooth decay is a common and preventable problem. It leads to a loss of millions of school and work hours and also much pain and suffering. When adults consume water enriched with fluoride it strengthens tooth enamel leading to strong and healthy teeth. The result is that they have fewer cavities and less requirement for fillings and, eventually, tooth removal.
Beneficial For All Ages
People of all ages benefit from the addition of fluoride to drinking water. In children who are younger than 8 years, fluoride works by strengthening their underdeveloped adult teeth. Fluoride absorbed into the enamel at the time of tooth formation reduces tooth decay in adult life. Community water fluoridation is believed to prevent 25% tooth decay in children and adults.
When compared to the costs of dental treatment the cost of fluoridating water for an individual is much less. This saves money both for families and the healthcare system. Fluoridated water particularly benefits people of the lower income group as they receive the benefits of fluoride free of cost.
It Is Natural
Fluoride is a naturally present mineral in fresh water and seawater. It poses no notable health risk. Water fluoridation is practiced in Australia, the US and different parts of the world. Water fluoridation is also safe for water organisms and the environment. Adding fluoride in water does not contaminate terrestrial ecosystems or soil.