Fluoride is an important tool in your quest for good oral health. It helps to strengthen and even rebuild your tooth’s enamel. You may receive fluoride from several sources — your toothpaste, mouth rinses, fluoride treatments from your dentist, and even your drinking water. Your dentist can help make sure you are receiving the amount of fluoride that will help your smile be at its very best.
When applied directly to the tooth’s surface, fluoride can help make your teeth more resistant to the acid that attacks teeth and causes cavities. Make sure the toothpaste and other dental products you use contain fluoride. If you have certain risk factors, such as well water, a family history of tooth decay, or health conditions that may weaken your enamel, your dentist may apply a fluoride varnish or gel during your regular cleaning. Your dentist may also recommend a fluoride gel, rinse or paste for you to apply at home.
Community Water Fluoridation: Safe and Effective!
If you receive your water from a community water supply, your water operator may be adjusting the fluoride levels in your drinking water for optimal dental health. Community water fluoridation is proven to be effective in reducing dental decay by at least 25 percent in children and adults. This process is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency and fluoride levels are monitored closely by the Department of Environmental Quality as well.
Depending on the level of naturally occurring fluoride in your area, your water operator may reduce the level of fluoride or add fluoride to the water supply so that it falls within the levels recommended by the Department of Health and Human Services. These recommended levels are reviewed periodically to ensure the greatest public benefit and the least amount of risk. This process is similar to fortifying milk with Vitamin D to ensure skeletal health and breads and cereals with folic acid to reduce birth defects.
Community water fluoridation has been scientifically proven safe and effective through reliable research over its nearly 70-year history. (Did you know that the first community to optimally fluoridate its water supply was Grand Rapids in 1945?) Unfortunately, some communities are still without community water fluoridation and are missing its benefits.
The only scientifically proven risk associated with fluoride is called fluorosis. This condition may cause white spots on the tooth surface. This may happen in very young children who may get too much fluoride through drinking too much formula prepared with fluoridated water. The American Dental Association and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that you prepare powdered or liquid concentrated formula with non-fluoridated water if your infant is consuming a diet of formula alone.