Community Water Fluoridation and Oral Health

The progression of oral health treatment methodologies have progressed immensely over the course of 70 years. Back in those primitive days, dentures were integral to oral care to combat exponentially higher rates of tooth decay. Nowadays, the prevalence of both dentures and tooth decay are significantly lower. The difference? The implementation of water fluoridation.

Since 1945, the widespread implementation of fluoridated water has improved oral health to unprecedented heights. Various studies on the impact of fluoridated water has shown to drastically reduce tooth decay, provide cavity protection, and protect the teeth of both children and adults, which as a result has reduced the need for various dental treatments and fillings. The consequent improvement of oral health has greatly reduced dental costs where in many cities, it is perceived that every dollar used in water fluoridation saves thirty eight dollars 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. As a matter of 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 that is added to the water. While there is fluoride that naturally exists in water, they aren't at optimal levels to promote adequate dental health, which has been determined to be 0.7 parts per million. 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, especially considering its proven safety among all ages, and the long term cost benefits associated with healthier teeth.

REFERENCES

"Fluoride in Water." Fluoride in Water. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2015. <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. N.p., 06 Mar. 2015. Web. 19 Nov. 2015. <http://ilikemyteeth.org/fluoridation/>.

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