Fluoride and Water Fluoridation Information Fluoride and Water Fluoridation Information Fluoride in Nature Fluorine is one of naturally occurring elements in nature, like oxygen, carbon, iron, or nitrogen. It is the 13th most abundant element, and can be found in the ocean, soil, plants, rocks and most food.
It occurs naturally in all water, at varying concentrations. In Indiana, most surface water and groundwater has a natural fluoride concentration of 0. Elements are the basic chemical building blocks for all materials, be they solid, liquid or gas. Few elements are found free in nature; usually, they are combined with other elements into compounds. In the case of fluorine, it is always found combined with other elements.
Dissolved in water, any compound will dissociate into its component elements, called ions. Thus fluorine in water is present as the fluoride ion. One fluoride ion is the same as the next, no matter what other elements it was originally combined with.
There is no difference between water that naturally contains fluoride ions, and water that has been purposely fortified with fluoride ions at the optimum concentration for reduction of tooth decay.
Adding fluoride to water is no different than fortifying salt with the iodine, milk with vitamins A and D, orange juice with vitamin C, or flour with iron and B vitamins. Fluoride prevents tooth decay in three ways. It reduces the ability of plaque bacteria to produce acid.
It is absorbed into the crystalline structure of tooth enamel, thereby reducing the ability of acid to attack it. Finally, fluoride remineralizes tooth enamel that has lost minerals due to the attack of acid producing bacteria.
In effect, fluoride stops, and can even reverse, the decay process in teeth. Fluoride is just as important to elderly Americans, as it prevents or impedes decay of exposed tooth roots. Most people are aware of the benefits of fluoridation for children.
But it is also very beneficial late in life. Tooth root decay is a significant problem for the elderly, and it is difficult for a dentist to treat. Many older adults do not produce saliva in sufficient amounts, which makes tooth cleaning more difficult. Additionally, their gums recede, exposing the roots of teeth, thereby increasing the risk of tooth root decay.
Fluoride remineralizes exposed tooth roots the same as it does tooth enamel. Facts in Support of Water Fluoridation Tooth decay remains the most prevalent chronic disease of childhood.
But during the second half of the 20th century a major decline in the prevalence and severity of tooth decay has occurred. Medical, dental, and public health professionals attribute that decline to fluoridation of public water supplies.
Decades of research and hundreds of studies throughout the world show that optimally fluoridated drinking water is safe and effective in reducing tooth decay. Water fluoridation is cost-effective, and the most efficient method of reaching the whole population.
Everyone benefits equally from fluoridation without the need for expensive daily interventions such as fluoride rinses, which some cannot afford.
Fluoridation reduces pain and suffering from tooth decay; it reduces time lost from school and work; and it reduces the cost of dental care. Studies show that when fluoridation ceases, tooth decay climbs. Given enough time, decay rates go back to pre-fluoridation levels. Although other sources of fluoride are now available, customers of water supplies without fluoridation continue to have higher rates of dental decay than those served by fluoridated water supplies.
McKay began searching for the cause of stained teeth that were prevalent among his patients. He found that this staining dental fluorosis also occurred in other parts of the country, including Texas. Dental fluorosis in its mildest form appears as small, white, opaque areas on teeth. While mild dental fluorosis is almost invisible, severe fluorosis appears as brown staining.
McKay noticed that that decay was much reduced in patients who had stained teeth, and concluded that both the staining and resistance to decay were caused by something in the water.
By , others had identified it as fluoride. Public Health Service tried to determine if there was a concentration of fluoride in water that would prevent decay, but not stain teeth. By checking the dental status of 7, children who drank naturally fluoridated water at different concentrations in four states, they determined that the ideal concentration would be 1.
While this concentration did not cause staining, it did reduce cavities by two-thirds. The next step was to test fluoridation of public water supplies. Grand Rapids, Michigan, was the first U.
First, the children in each city were examined by dentists and physicians; then fluoride was added to one of the two water supplies.
The other paired cities experienced equally dramatic differences. While these comparison studies were originally intended to last for ten years, the differences were so astounding that hundreds cities and towns started water fluoridation after only five years.
The first three Indiana public water supplies to fluoridate were Ft. Wayne, Indianapolis, and Huntingburg, all in However, many countries use another form of fluoridation, salt fluoridation, similar to our iodination of salt.
More than ,, people world-wide benefit from fluoridation. According to CDC , nearly two-thirds of public water supply customers across the U. In Indiana, nearly public water supplies and 33 rural schools fluoridate; 4. Many Hoosier water utilities serve water naturally fluoridated at the optimum level, including: Currently, 84 Hoosier public water supplies do not fluoridate. Those that serve more than customers include: Endorsements of Fluoridation During the 20th century, the life expectancy of U.
Twenty-five of those years are thought to be attributable to advances in public health. Fluoridation has been identified by the CDC as one of the ten greatest public health achievements in the 20th Century. According to CDC, water fluoridation "safely and inexpensively benefits both children and adults by effectively preventing tooth decay, regardless of socioeconomic status or access to care.
It is not surprising that some differences of opinion among scientists and professionals in research and medicine may occur. What is surprising, however, is their almost universal agreement on the safety and effectiveness of fluoridation. By a wide majority, the American people favor fluoridation. An earlier survey revealed that an even higher percentage of parents favor fluoridation.
According to Consumer Reports magazine , "Of all the numerous ills that have been attributed to fluoridation, from cancer to constipation in dogs, none has ever been shown to be valid. The simple truth is that there's no 'scientific controversy' over the safety of fluoridation.
The practice is safe, economical, and beneficial. The survival of this fake controversy represents, in CU's opinion, one of the major triumphs of quackery over science in our generation. It's not an experiment. You're not being asked to approve something that's been built on uncertain findings. Does everyone agree with me? Not by a long shot. But I have to tell you, they're wrong. I never lied to you as the surgeon general. And the people who oppose the fluoridation of water don't know what they're talking about.
But dentists have steadfastly supported fluoridation, knowing how important it is to public health, and how sound the science is that supports it. After all, their families benefit from fluoridation just as much as the rest of us.
No medical professional would subject their parents or children to fluoridated water if there was something wrong with it. Safety of Water Fluoridation Three chemicals are used to fluoridate drinking water in the U.
Fluorosilicic acid is a byproduct of the manufacture of phosphate fertilizer. It is recovered as a vapor, which ensures a high degree of purity. Both sodium fluoride and sodium fluorosilicate are made from fluorosilicic acid recovered in this manner. Sodium fluorosilicate is created by neutralizing fluorosilicic acid with caustic soda, itself a water treatment chemical.
Sodium fluoride is created by neutralizing fluorosilicic acid with sodium chloride, common salt. Antifluoridationists have pointed out that industrial grade fluoride chemicals are used by water utilities, implying that pharmaceutical grade chemicals should be used instead.
Pharmaceutical grade fluoride compounds are used to make prescription drugs, not for water treatment.