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Dental care, Fluoride in Drinking Water

Monday, Jul. 4th 2011 8:34 AM

Fluoride is a trace element found naturally on Earth. It is not usually considered an essential element because people don’t need it to grow, but it does provide huge benefits in the form of preventing tooth decay. The health of the teeth and gums can be an indicator of general health, and tooth decay can even indicate other problems such as heart disease, so it is important to ensure that the teeth and gums remain healthy.

Adding fluoride to drinking water began in 1945. It was discovered by scientists that people living in areas that had water with naturally-occurring fluoride had less cavities. By further studying this concept, scientists found that fluoride could help stop and even reverse tooth decay by rebuilding the enamel on the outside of the teeth. The Michigan town of Grand Rapids contained the first public water system to implement fluoridation, and more than 60 percent of the entire country used fluoridated drinking water by 1992. The Center for Disease Control named fluoridated water one of the most important scientific advancements of the 20th century.

It is unclear even to scientists exactly how fluoride helps strengthen tooth enamel, but there is evidence that suggests it has something to do with the amount of minerals in the teeth. Tooth enamel can become corroded by organic acids found in food and drinks, but fluoride that has been absorbed in the body and is contained in the saliva can remineralize the enamel by interacting with phosphate and calcium already present.

The best time for fluoride consumption is during childhood. During this period, the teeth and bones are still forming, and the fluoride added to the diet strengthens them in preparation for the future. Just like any other health concern, it is best to prevent problems in the first place rather than deal with them after they have already occurred. Preventing cavities and decay is the primary goal of fluoridation. Fluoridated drinking water saves people much worry, pain, and money, especially people who may have certain concerns regarding dental insurance.

While many dentists, doctors, and professionals specializing in public health agree that fluoridated drinking water is healthy and helps to prevent tooth decay, there are also many opponents. Some people claim that adding fluoride to public drinking water is “forced medication” and also that it can lead to certain types of cancer, like thyroid cancer. Many independent and government studies have proven that there is no link between fluoridated drinking water and cancer, so those claims remain unsubstantiated by actual studies and evidence. In addition, other studies have shown that a population without fluoridated drinking water shows an increased risk of tooth decay.

The recommended daily intake for fluoride is 2.5 milligrams. Any more than this amount can cause brown or mottled teeth, and any less than this amount will lead to an increased risk for tooth decay. Generally, additional fluoride supplements are not needed, as the required amount is met by drinking the provided amount of fluoridated drinking water.

Posted on Monday, Jul. 4th 2011 8:34 AM | by admin | in Dental Care | No Comments »

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