How water fluoridation can affect your smile
By Senior Airman Christine Mounts , 14th Medical Operations Squadron
/ Published June 01, 2007
COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
Lately there have been many stories and information stating that water fluoridation is unnecessary and even that it can cause health issues for patients over time. The truth is these sources are not using viable research to inform the public. It is mostly opinionated information with fancy words to make the site sound legitimate. The real benefits of water fluoridation have been thoroughly researched and can be backed by the American Dental Association and even the Centers for Disease Control. These sources provide truthful information concerning the benefits of water fluoridation. Here are some truths concerning water fluoridation that may be helpful to understand its benefits.
The addition of fluoride to water rather than just using fluoridated toothpaste is good because it gives a low dose of fluoride to the patient over a long period of time. A patient who just uses fluoridated toothpaste only receives fluoride in one lump dose at a time and most of it washes away during the brushing and rinsing process.
The amount of fluoride added to water is very small, .7-1.2 parts per million, but that amount has been proven to prevent 50 to 70 percent of tooth decay in children. Drinking fluoridated water is safe, more convenient and more cost effective than having to find other means of receiving supplemental fluoride. The average cost of water fluoridation only amounts to about $.062 per year per person in cities and $3.90 per person per year in rural areas. Considering the average filling can run approximately $200 this is also more effective that not receiving any supplemental fluoride.
Tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease. It is five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever. Approximately 51 million school hours are lost each year to dental-related illnesses. The pain and suffering due to disease, if untreated, can lead to problems in eating, speaking and learning. Nearly twice as many children from low income families suffer from tooth decay that is more likely to be untreated.
Fluoridated water is beneficial to patient's dental health because it reverses the cavity process, it strengthens tooth enamel and when ingested by children, it is incorporated into the enamel of developing teeth before they erupt making them stronger and more resistant to decay. It is effective in decreasing cavities between teeth caused by improper or infrequent flossing. It also is effective in decreasing tooth sensitivity to hot, cold and sweets.
Infants receive fluoride in infant formula, but if they also receive it in their tap water it poses virtually no extra health risks. If there is a concern a child may be receiving too much fluoride, first speak with a primary care manager, and then distilled bottled water may be an option.
Editor's Note: Columbus' water is fluoridated. It is tested monthly by the base bioenvironmental office, to ensure the levels are optimal for the health of the community. To date Columbus has never exceeded the recommended limits.