Although water fluoridation has proven to be incredibly effective for over 7 decades, the topic continues to be a point of controversy. Driven by misleading studies and a lack of factual evidence, some people believe that fluoride is toxic and unnecessary. It can be confusing to hear such conflicting stories, but no one can deny the fact that the introduction of fluoride into community water is actually hailed as one of the greatest public health achievements of the last century! The ability to give the general public fluoridated drinking water is a wonderful service that is incredibly beneficial, and it’s hard to imagine the dental state that we would be in without it! Here are just a few of the effects that the introduction of fluoridated water has had on our communities nationwide:
- Childhood cavities have been reduced by one-third since community water fluoridation started.
- The financial burden of dental treatment has been lessened due to fewer oral health issues.
- Risk of individual dental decay is decreased by 25 percent when consuming fluoridated water.
- Cost efficiency of fluoride delivery allows whole communities to benefit from the service, regardless of demographic variances.
So what is the controversy that surrounds this public service, and is there any truth to it? The main argument against fluoride is mostly centered on the toxicity of excessive amounts being ingested. While fluoride, like many other things, will of course be toxic if consumed in large doses, the amount of fluoride used in everything from toothpaste to water supply is heavily regulated. Particularly in community water, the amount of fluoride added is tailored to the level that is already present in that community’s water supply. Just enough is used to protect teeth against cavities. In other fluoridated products as well, the added amount is so minimal that toxicity is not issue. Of course, ingesting too much toothpaste or mouthwash is dangerous, and only the amount listed on the product should be used.
Water fluoridation has been reaffirmed as perfectly safe time and time again. New studies by the National Toxicology Program confirm that there is no damage caused by the recommended levels of exposure to fluoride. Other countries publishing their own studies on the topic have also made known the benefits of water fluoridation in their communities, such as reducing cavities across the board and helping to bridge the equality gap in access to dental services. All of us have benefited from the introduction of fluoride into community drinking water without even noticing, and we would only realize how necessary it is in preventing cavities if we actually had to go without it! Understanding the importance of fluoride is crucial for your own oral health, so make sure to not only gain the benefits from the water you drink, but also in the toothpaste you use. This simple ingredient is a powerhouse of cavity protection and will strengthen your teeth for years to come.