It seems like everyone has something to say about fluoride. From the newscaster on TV, to your friends on Facebook, everyone seems to know all the facts about fluoride. Lets put the exaggerations and fear mongering aside and discuss the facts. Fluoride is a naturally occurring chemical element that is found in all lakes, rivers and oceans; as such, it is present in all foods and beverages that we use everyday. According to the Pew Research Center, putting a small and regulated amount of fluoride into the public water supply, reduces tooth decay by over 25%. But how does it do it? Lets simplify the science!
Fluoride protects our teeth in three specific ways. Firstly, fluoride repairs enamel (the outer most layer of a tooth), by attracting calcium and phosphate molecules, that exist in our saliva, to diffuse back into the tooth. Fluoride then builds a “fluorapatite” outer covering that rebuilds the weakened tooth, like scaffolding on the outside of a building. Secondly, fluoride kills the bad bacteria, like S. mutans, and Lactobacilli, that live in our mouths. Thirdly, it stops lactic acid production which is the acid made by these bad bacteria, that eat away at our teeth.
Hundreds of professional organizations, and educational institutions support fluoridating our drinking water. Some of these include: the American Dental Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, National Academy of Sciences and the internationally recognized World Health Organization. The only reason that there is such wide spread, international support for fluoridation is because of the thousands of scientific, peer reviewed studies, that have occurred in the past 60 years. People who oppose the wide spread usage of fluoride choose to ignore all of this evidence. They often exaggerate stories about individual experiences, or simply create an organization with a professional sounding name, to publish biased “science”.
The biggest advantage of fluoride is that it saves the average person money; lots of it. A study in the Journal of Public Health Dentistry discovered that for every one dollar invested in public water fluoridation saves approximately $38 in future dental treatments. All of the facts on the usage of fluoride are clear. Public water fluoridation has been going on in the majority of this country for over 60 years, saves millions of dollars in healthcare each year, and almost every reputable scientific organization supports it. The debate about fluoride is over! Think about that next time you receive a chain email, or scroll through your Facebook newsfeed.