For six decades, the American Dental Association has continuously endorsed the fluoridation of community water supplies and the use of fluoride-containing products as safe and effective measures for preventing tooth decay. Studies have shown that water fluoridation continues to be effective in reducing tooth decay by 20 to 40 percent. In addition, it also helps repair the early stages of tooth decay even before the decay becomes visible.
But what is fluoride and why is it so important to oral health? Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in all water sources, even the oceans. The fluoride ion comes from the element fluorine. Fluorine is the 17th most abundant element in the earth’s crust and is never encountered in its free state in nature.
Fluoride is effective in preventing and reversing the early signs of tooth decay. Researchers have shown that there are several ways through which fluoride achieves its decay-preventive effects. It makes the tooth structure stronger, so teeth are more resistant to acid attacks. Acid is formed when the bacteria in plaque break down sugars and carbohydrates from the diet. Repeated acid attacks break down the tooth, which causes cavities. Fluoride also acts to repair, or remineralize, areas in which acid attacks have already begun.
However, despite the extensive data to back up the effectiveness of fluoride, the majority of bottled waters on the market do not contain optimal levels of fluoride. And, some types of home water treatment systems can reduce the fluoride levels in water supplies potentially decreasing the decay-preventive effects of optimally fluoridated water.
So cut out the expensive habit of buying bottled water and drink a glass of tap water today.