Contributor: Raza Qadir
Over 70 years ago existed a time when dentures and levels of tooth decay were exponentially higher than what is seen today. The difference? The implementation of water fluoridation.
Since 1945, the widespread introduction of fluoridated water has improved oral health to far greater levels. Various studies on the impact of fluoridated water has shown to drastically reduce tooth decay, provide cavity protection, protect the teeth of both children and adults, which as a result has reduced the need for various dental treatments and fillings.
The impact of fluoride has effectively improved oral health, which in turn has greatly reduced dental costs. In many cities, it is perceived that every dollar used in water fluoridation saves $38 in dental costs. Fluoride uses several mechanisms to impact dental health. This includes reducing the ability of the plaque bacteria to produce acid, strengthening tooth enamel, and altering the structure of enamel in children to resist acid attack. In fact, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention named community water fluoridation as one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century, and published the following figure, signifying the decrease in dental caries that have resulted from this practice.
The issue that arises is due to the fact that community water systems have control over the amount of fluoride added to the water. While there is fluoride that naturally exists in water, they aren't at optimal levels (determined to be around 0.7 parts per million) to promote adequate dental health.
Variations in the fluoride levels determined by these different systems has caused many oral health disparities in different communities. Ensuring that water is adequately fluoridated in suffering communities can go a long way towards improving oral and overall health and the long term cost benefits associated with healthier teeth.
"Fluoride in Water." Fluoride in Water. <http://www.ada.org/en/public-programs/advocating-for-the-public/fluoride-and-fluoridation>.
"What’s the Debate?" I Like My Teeth Whats the Debate Comments. <http://ilikemyteeth.org/fluoridation/>.