Dental clinic provides flouride facts

  • Published
  • By Cindy Allen
  • 23rd Aeromedical-Dental Squadron
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral present, in small amounts, in almost all foods and water supplies and has the ability of providing a natural defense against tooth decay. 

According to the American Dental Association, water fluoridation is the single most effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay. 

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention proclaimed community water fluoridation as one of ten great public health achievements of the 20th Century. 

Fluoride works in two ways. First, it reinforces tooth structure, making the enamel more resistant to the acids, such as sodas, which cause tooth decay. Second, fluoride aids in the repair of weakened enamel which has already undergone acid attack.

The use of fluoridation systems began in 1950. Approximately two thirds of the U.S. population is currently served by fluoridated public water systems. These community water systems adjust the existing levels of fluoride in the water to an optimal 0.7 - 1.2 parts per million for the prevention of tooth decay. It has been reported that every $1 invested in water fluoridation will save $38 in dental treatment costs.

People can get fluoride in two forms: topical and systemic. Topical preparations include toothpastes, mouth rinses and professionally applied rinses, foams or gels that strengthen teeth. Systemic absorption may be obtained either by prescription or community water fluoridation, which is the more efficient mode.

Does your water filter remove fluoride? This depends on the type and quality of the filter being used, the status of the filter and the filter's age. Each type of filter should be assessed individually.

Can the consistent use of bottled water result in individuals missing the benefits of optimally fluoridated water? Yes. The majority of bottled waters on the market do not contain optimal levels of fluoride, so individuals who drink bottled water as their primary source of water could be missing the decay preventive effects of fluoridated water in their community water supply.

The ADA, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend daily supplemental fluoride from age six months to 16 years for children in areas where water is not optimally fluoridated. Ask your dentist about recommended dosages.

Fluoride is a tested, proven safe and effective, preventive health measure. However, it can be harmful and even fatal if consumed in massive doses.

Children could potentially swallow fluoride rinses, therefore, they are not recommended for children under 6 years of age. All fluoride supplements should be kept out of the reach of children.

Excessive fluoride can cause yellowing of teeth, white spots and pitting of enamel. If your child does swallow a large dose of fluoride, give milk to drink and call a physician or poison control center.

If you have any questions or concerns concerning fluoride effectiveness, safety, regimens or any other dental concerns, please ask your dentist.

The Moody, Valdosta, Lakeland and Hahira water systems are all fluoridated. If you are unsure of the fluoride status where you live or you have any questions, call your local water authority or the Moody Dental Clinic at 257-2778.