Water fluoridation became really widespread in the United States in 1960 a few decades after scientists discovered fluoride’s effects on the enamel of our teeth. For many, water fluoridation is a hot button issue. This is largely due to some overblown studies and a few indications that fluoride can be toxic in high doses. While there is some truth to the toxicity the levels of fluoridation in public water is well below that level.
Studies have shown that small levels of fluoride exposure can be an effective tool in the prevention of tooth decay without causing harmful effects. In the United States, some cities, such as Portland, have opted out of water fluoridation citing health concerns (which have largely been disproven). Calgary, Alberta in Canada has recently been feeling the repercussions of removing fluoride from their water supply.
Cavities on the Rise
Researchers looked at data from 600 children between 2004 and 2005 before fluoride was removed from the water system and compared it to data from 3,500 children between 2013 and 2014, about three years after fluoride was removed. They found a significant increase in the amount of tooth decay present in children whose adult teeth were coming in, and this was only a few years after Calgary had ceased fluoridating the water supply.
They also compared the data to that of the city of Edmonton, which is nearby and continues to fluoridate its water. In Calgary, the average cavities in its children increased by 3.8 decayed surfaces from 2004-2005, but in Edmonton, the increase was only 2.1 decayed surfaces. Without fluoridation, cavities in Calgary grew nearly twice as much!
Why Fluoridation Is Important
In a perfect world, everyone would regularly come to the dentist. Unfortunately, many stay away because they are scared of the dentist, or would like to visit a dentist but simply cannot afford to. This is especially true in under privileged, largely African American, Latino, and Native American communities, where tooth decay is larger problem than in more affluent parts of the county.
Fluoride is a great way to reintroduce lost minerals to the enamel of our teeth which strengthens them and protects them from tooth decay. It is also cost effective, as it is estimated that for every dollar spent on water fluoridation, saves $38 in dental bills. For many, this is a main line of defense against tooth decay.
See a Dentist!
Water fluoridation is without a doubt a controversial topic, so much so that some cities have decided to opt out of it. If you live in one of these cities, there are some alternative ways to expose your teeth to fluoride, including fluoridated toothpastes and fluoride treatments from your dentist. Prevention is the best way to protect yourself from tooth decay. If you live in the West Nyack area and need to see a dentist, please consider visiting Dr. Dunayer at B&D Dental Excellence. Please give us a call at (845) 627-7645 to schedule an appointment today!