Recently a CBC article was published about the community of Moncton N.B., where the decision to stop adding fluoride to the water supply was implemented 5 years ago. The assumptions in that decision were that fluoride is somehow harmful to the body, and that fluoridated water is no longer needed to prevent tooth decay. Yet, as the article reports, there was a sharp increase in the incidence of dental cavities in that community over the past 5 years, indicating that perhaps drinking fluoridated water is more important in the prevention of tooth decay than the community thought.
Why fluoridation matters:
Tooth enamel is made up of crystals that dissolve in acid. When bacteria on the teeth consume sugars from the foods we eat, they produce acid that burns holes in our teeth, and eventually causes cavities. Fluoride, when applied to the teeth, becomes incorporated into the enamel crystals, making them more resistant to acid. This is how fluoride helps prevent tooth decay.
Some people believe that adding fluoride to water is no longer necessary because there is enough fluoride in our toothpastes to prevent tooth decay. What these people fail to realize is that toothpaste only affects the outermost layer of enamel, and can not penetrate deep into the inner layers. Relying on toothpaste alone makes our teeth hard on the outside, but soft on the inside.
Drinking fluoridated water, particularly as children, helps incorporate fluoride into all the layers of our developing teeth, not just the outermost layers. It also helps replenish our dissolving enamel over the course of the day as we sip it.
This is why drinking fluoridated water matters, and continues to matter. But the question remains, does fluoride cause harm to other areas of the body?
Fluoride in water is NOT dangerous!
Many anti-fluoridationists are quick to claim that fluoride is poisonous – which is true when consumed in large amounts, but not true in the tiny amounts found in tap water (about 1 part per million). Incidentally, many medicines and foods are equally poisonous in large quantities and helpful in small quantities (think Tylenol, penicillin, salt, or even water!).
With so much misinformation floating around (especially on the internet) we can be thankful that we have peer reviewed studies on this subject that show no association between fluoridated water and disease. It’s still concerning, in light of these studies, that the municipality of Moncton made the decision to stop fluoridating the water supply – a decision that has cost the public significantly, both in money and in health!
Tooth decay and general health are absolutely linked. There are countless peer reviewed, evidence based reports drawing clear connections between oral health and a person’s general wellbeing. From diabetes, to blood pressure and heart attacks or stroke, Oral healthcare is important and not to be taken lightly.
Hopefully, other communities will make decisions about the fluoridation of their water supply that are based on science and not on fear and misinformation. The primary goal of dentists, orthodontists, and other dental specialists is the health of our patients. If we, along with the medical community, are advising the public to continue fluoridating the water supply, it is because all the science we have available tells us that it is the right decision to improve your oral and general health.
The topic of fluoride is a hotly debated issue. In our humble opinion, we recommend you get your information from medical and dental providers rather than in a chat room! It’s just common sense!