Kids and Fluoride

Effectiveness of Fluoride

Topical fluorides strengthen teeth already present in the mouth. Fluoride is incorporated into the surface of teeth making them more decay-resistant. Fluoridated drinking water probably has a topical effect as well as a systemic effect. Systemic fluorides can give topical protection because ingested fluoride is present in saliva, which continually bathes the teeth. Fluoride is incorporated into the tooth surface to prevent decay. Fluoride also becomes incorporated into dental plaque and facilitates further remineralization. It reduces the solubility of tooth enamel in acid. It reduces the ability of plaque organisms to produce acid. Adults may also benefit from fluoridation, particularly those with receding gums, which expose the tooth roots that are particularly susceptible to decay. In addition to reducing tooth decay, water fluoridation prevents needless infection, pain, suffering and loss of teeth; improves the quality of life; and saves vast sums of money in dental treatment costs. Prevention is simply safer and cheaper.

Initial studies showed a 60% reduction in caries in fluoridated communities (communities which had appropriately adjusted fluoride to the water source). More recently, the benefit appears to be 30-40%. The difference may be attributed to use of fluoridated toothpaste and the prevalence of fluoridated water in packaged foods and beverages.

Having access to fluoridated water significantly improves oral health. Community water fluoridation has been shown to safely reduce dental decay by 30% to 60% in children and 20% to 40% in adult teeth. The California Oral Health Needs Assessment found that children from non-fluoridated regions had significantly more untreated caries and had experienced more dental decay than peers from fluoridated urban areas.

ADA link "Fluoridation Facts" booklet in PDF Click Here

"The moral test of government and all of society is how we treat those who are at the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the aged; and those who are in the shadow of life, the needy and handicapped or disabled"
The Honorable Hubert H. Humphrey, U. S. Senator, 1962

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