February is National Children’s Dental Health Month and the American Dental Association’s slogan for the program this year is “Fluoride in water prevents cavities! Get it from the tap!”. This year actually marks the 75th anniversary of community water fluoridation. Brought to the public by the ADA, National Children’s Dental Health Month is held every February as a month-long national health observance that brings together thousands of professionals, health care providers, and educators to promote the benefits of good oral health to children and their caregivers.
In 1945, Grand Rapids, Michigan became the first city in the world to fluoridate its drinking water. To this day, the ADA remains committed to fluoridation of public water supplies as the single most effective health measure to help prevent tooth decay. Over 70 years of scientific research has shown that an optimal level of fluoride in community water is safe and effective and prevents tooth decay by at least 25% in both children and adults. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention named community water fluoridation one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.
What is Fluoride exactly?
Fluoride is an ionic compound derived from fluorine. It is naturally found in many rocks. About 95 percent of the fluoride added to public water supplies is produced from phosphorite rock. Fluoride is added to public water supplies at an average concentration of about 1 part per million.
How does Fluoride work?
Fluoride works by binding tooth enamel, which is primarily made up of hydroxylapatite, a crystal composed of calcium, phosphorus, hydrogen, and oxygen. By replacing the hydroxyl molecule on hydroxylapatite, fluoride makes the tooth more resistant to acid attack from bacteria.
More Fluoride Facts:
Fluoride in Food – According to data from the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Nutrient Base, fluoride is naturally present in a large range of foods including raisins, russet potatoes, lamb, carrots, wine, black tea, and parsley
Availability – The widespread availability of fluoride through tap water fluoridation, toothpaste, and other sources has resulted in the steady decline of tooth decay throughout the United States.