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Water Fluoridation: Facts and Details

What is fluoride?

Fluoride is a natural mineral that helps harden the outer surface of teeth, called the enamel. It is currently present in drinking water and other products, such as toothpaste.

How does fluoride affect oral health?

Fluoride helps slow the rate at which cavities develop by rebuilding tooth enamel. Its presence in saliva allows it to form a protective layer on teeth that is more resistant to acids formed by plaque and bacteria.

What is the connection between fluoride and water?

Fluoride occurs naturally in water. Some water sources are naturally high in fluoride, while others are naturally low. Some cities that have more than what’s required to effectively protect teeth choose to remove some fluoride, while other cities that don’t have enough choose to add some.

What is community water fluoridation?

Water fluoridation is the controlled addition of fluoride into a public water supply and is commonly practiced around the United States. Consistent, long-term contact with fluoride has been scientifically linked to declines in dental caries, such as tooth decay and cavities. Currently, more than 204 million people in the United States (almost 73.9 percent of the population) are served by public water containing enough fluoride to protect teeth.

How did water fluoridation come about?

In the 1930s, dental scientists noticed low tooth decay rates among individuals whose water contained natural fluoride. Studies conducted during the 1940s and 1950s confirmed that when a small amount of fluoride is added into a community’s water supply, decay rates among residents decreased.

What is the status of oral health in the community?

We often measure a community’s health by looking at its youngest members. Nearly 25 percent of our children experience dental caries – more than hay fever or asthma. According to the Surgeon General, 51 million school hours are lost every year due to dental-related illnesses.

How can fluoridated water improve the community’s oral health? 

What does water fluoridation cost? 

Just the facts, please. 