Tooth decay and cavities in children are a nightmare for parents. February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, and this year the slogan is ‘Fluoride in water prevents cavities! Get it from the tap!’
Why Fluoride? Fluoride, a chemical ion of fluorine, is one of the top 20 most common naturally occurring elements in the earth’s crust. An ion is a positively or negatively charged atom that helps elements combine. When fluorine, a negatively charged ion, meets a positively charged ion such as sodium, it turns into a cavity-fighter element.
Hence, fluoride compounds, when present in the mouth, make teeth stronger by preventing cavities and decay. These wonder elements can even reverse tooth decay in the early stages.
Let’s understand how fluoride prevents cavities and the benefits of consuming tap water with fluoride.
How Does Fluoride Prevent Cavities?
When fluoride from sources like tap water or toothpaste mixes with your saliva, your teeth can absorb it. Once this fluoride enters the enamel on your teeth, it teams up with phosphate and calcium in the enamel to create fluorapatite. The presence of this mineral helps protect your teeth from cavities and tooth decay.
What are the Benefits of Tap Water with Fluoride?
Dentists and other oral health specialists recommend fluoridation of the water supply as one of the top three fluoride therapies. Community water fluoridation is the adjustment of fluoride content in drinking water up to a level that offers protection against tooth decay. The following are the benefits of consuming tap water with fluoride in it.
- Proven Effective and Safe Source – It has been scientifically proven that community water fluoridation is effective and safe. Over 100 health organizations have recognized the benefits of tap water fluoridation in protecting against tooth decay and cavities, including the World Health Organization, the American Dental Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
- Reduces Risk of Cavities – Various studies have shown that fluoride in community water has helped prevent at least 25% of tooth decay in children and adults. These results were recorded during a period in which there was easy accessibility to fluoride from other sources such as fluoride-containing toothpaste.
- Helps Prevent Tooth Decay – Consuming tap water with fluoride in it is one of the most effective ways to prevent tooth decay. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has endorsed its effectiveness by naming community water fluoridation as one of the ten great public health achievements of the 20th century.
- Is Cost-effective – The average cost for an individual to fluoride a lifetime water supply is less than the cost of a single dental filling. In most cities, for every $1 invested in water fluoridation saves $38 in dental treatment expenses.
- Is Natural – Fluoride is naturally present in oceans and groundwater. Community water fluoridation only ensures the appropriate adjustment of the fluorine level to match the recommended level for preventing cavities and tooth decay. It is as natural as fortifying fruit juices with minerals and vitamins, salt with iodine, etc.
If you drink bottled water, ensure that you check the label. Not all bottled waters contain fluoride.
Other Sources of Fluoride:
Apart from fluoridated community tap water, you can ensure that your children get the right amount of fluoride through the following sources:
- Brushing teeth twice a day with an ADA approved toothpaste as it has the recommended amount of fluoride required to protect teeth according to the age of your child.
- Using a mouth rinse containing fluoride prescribed by your dentist if your child needs it.
This Children’s Dental Health month, make sure that your little ones enjoy a healthy smile with the help of our dental care experts. Request an appointment today and make sure that your child’s dental health is in check. We can also recommend the best toothpaste for your child’s needs and discuss with you the sources of fluoride for your child.