Water fluoridation has been hailed as one of the most notable public health advancements in the 21st century. However, there was a time where the water from your tap did not yet contain this naturally occurring mineral. So what is fluoride and why is it being added to the water which you are drinking?
What is fluoride?
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral which is originally found in soil. Back in the 1940s, experts found out that populations who drank water which contained certain levels of fluoride actually had fewer cavities compared to individuals who drank water which was devoid of any levels of fluoride. Currently, it is known that fluoride has the capacity to regenerate enamel crystals in order to strengthen this external layer of the teeth. At the same time, fluoride is also a component in bones.
Why is water fluoridated?
Because of the observation mentioned above, public health specialists decided to make an experiment which involves the addition of fluoride in water. The first time that the public water system was fluoridated was back in 1945 at Grand Rapids, Michigan. The fluoride level of the water in Grand Rapids during that year was adjusted to 1.0 ppm, and it was this city which became the first in the entire country to practice water fluoridation. Currently, almost 72 percent of the entire country receives water which is fluoridated.
What can fluoride do?
As mentioned above, fluoride can strengthen the enamel layer of the teeth. Since the enamel is the external layer of teeth and is considered the first line of defense against bacterial infections, a thicker enamel layer means that you are more capable of resisting cavity formation and dental caries.
Is fluoride used in treatments?
Individuals who aren’t receiving enough amounts of fluoride can ask their dentist for a fluoride rinse which essentially allows the patient to gargle a solution which contains high amounts of fluoride.
What are the disadvantages of using fluoride?
Fluoride can actually be a problem for children who have yet to have their permanent teeth come in. Excessive fluoride protection can lead to a condition called dental fluorosis. The main sign of dental fluorosis involves cosmetic problems to the surface of the teeth. If you want to keep your child from experiencing gum diseases, you should wait until your child is 2 years old before you can use toothpaste and always use just a smear if you are an adult with a child with you.