Fluoride is often added to water supplies, but many people don’t know why the addition is necessary. In fact, the addition of the mineral has received some scrutiny. So, why is fluoride in our water?
Fluoride helps keep your teeth free of decay.
Fluoride is actually found in most water sources naturally. That’s right. Fluoride is even found in spring water. However, the concentration varies. Fluoride is added to our water to ensure that levels are sufficient to help keep our teeth healthy.
Tooth decay occurs primarily because of damage from bacterial acid. If you thought that those little microbes in your mouth were the main culprits behind your cavities, you were right.
The bacteria in your mouth excrete acid as a by-product of their digestion. Every time they feed on food particles in your mouth, they release this acid, which in turn, corrodes the enamel of your teeth. As a result, minerals within your tooth enamel are dissolved and displaced. If the weakened areas are not remineralized or repaired, a cavity develops.
That is where fluoride comes in. When you introduce fluoride into your oral cavity- via your toothpaste, drinking water or some other source– it coats the surfaces of your teeth. There, fluoride attracts the displaced minerals back to your tooth enamel. In addition, it combines with these minerals to form new tooth material.
The new tooth material that is formed from the combination of fluoride and the other minerals is actually more resistant to acid than your original tooth enamel. Thus, by exposing your teeth to fluoride, you can help them resist tooth decay.
Fluoridating the water is a cost-effective way to prevent tooth decay.
It costs very little for cities to add fluoride to their water supply. However, the cost associated with treating dental issues can be quite significant, especially if a large amount of decay is present.
Tooth decay can quickly result in the need for a filling, a root canal or even an extraction. Once a tooth is lost, more oral health problems can surface. For instance, the jawbone can begin to shrink at the site of the extraction, and teeth may begin to shift out of place due to the extra space. By fluoridating the water, cities can take a preventative approach that can lessen the need for restorative dental care.
Adding fluoride to the water helps everyone in the community.
Since most people in a community drink from the same water sources, fluoridation affects practically everyone. There are no disadvantages based on economic factors.
Some dental health products may be too expensive for people who have a very limited income. However, since fluoride is added to the drinking water, members of the same community can all enjoy its decay-preventive effects.
The fluoride in your toothpaste is not enough.
You may feel that since there is already fluoride present in your toothpaste, there should be no need to also have it in your drinking water. However, the fluoride in your toothpaste, although helpful, may not be enough to adequately protect your teeth. People who live in areas without fluoridated water tend to suffer from more episodes of decay.
When the fluoride in your water is paired with that in your toothpaste, the results include stronger teeth with fewer cavities. In places where fluoridated water is not provided, dentists often offer fluoride tablets to their patients.
Receiving fluoride as a child can have a long-term impact on your dental health.
As a child’s teeth develop and grow, they need fluoride to strengthen them. Kids who drink water with added fluoride tend to have teeth that are stronger and more decay-resistant. As a result, children who drink fluoridated water may be more likely to enjoy more of their teeth later on. Decay and gum disease are still the main causes of tooth loss.
Fluoridated water does not usually cause fluorosis.
You can have too much of a good thing. This is why some people are concerned that you may get too much fluoride from your drinking water. However, the CDC has released an acceptable level of fluoridation that protects the teeth without jeopardizing your safety. This level, which is used as a guide for most city water sources, is about 0.7 parts per million.
Your child can still receive fluoride even when using non-fluoridated toothpaste.
If you have a young toddler who is just learning to brush on his or her own, your dentist may have suggested toothpaste without fluoride—at least until your little one can spit it all out without assistance. Still, your youngster’s teeth can benefit from the protection of fluoride. Having fluoridated drinking water can help ensure that your child’s teeth get the fluoride that is needed.
Contact our office if you feel that you or youngster needs even more fluoride protection. Our Bonham dentists can assess the teeth to determine if a fluoride treatment is needed.