There is a recurring debate in public opinion around whether fluoride in public water is dangerous. Those who believe it poses a risk think fluoride in drinking water alters, damages, or otherwise negatively affects your health in some way or fashion. Here's what many others think.
Riding for fluoride
The decision to fluoridate water ranks right up there with the eradication of polio, the development of vaccines, and the discovery of penicillin in regards to advancing public health. In fact, fluoridation of public drinking water is universally endorsed by the medical establishment and the scientific community as a whole. The American Dental Association (ADA), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American Medical Association (AMA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Surgeon General, World Health Organization (WHO), and even Parent Teachers Association (PTA) have all come out in support for fluoridation of water supplies.
The importance of fluoride
To truly appreciate why water fluoridation is a metaphorical home run in regards to public health, it is important to understand just how much of a problem tooth decay has become in our modern society. Dental caries, or cavities, remain a major public health concern in most industrialized countries, such as the United States, affecting 60–90 percent of schoolchildren and the vast majority of adults. Water fluoridation has proven to be a cost-effective, safe, and efficient way to prevent tooth decay and efficiently deliver dental care to millions of Americans. According to the WHO, water fluoridation reduced the occurrence of dental caries by 15 percent. The same study also concluded that the practice had no measurable ill effects to your health of any kind.
Fluoride works to protect and repair teeth by converting hydroxyapatite into fluorapatite. The conversion of naturally occurring hydroxyapatite into less soluble fluorapatite as a result of fluoride intake not only makes teeth stronger, it also reverses early dental decay through a process called remineralization. Remineralization is the process of which minerals such as calcium that are lost due to acid action are redeposited into the teeth. There is also evidence that suggests that fluoride fights bacteria by reducing their ability to adhere to your teeth. All in all, fluoride works to protect and repair teeth in a variety of ways and is an important part of any modern dental health strategy.
5 fluoride myths
Fluoride in water is unnatural
False. Contrary to what some believe, fluoride is actually a naturally occurring compound that is particularly abundant in certain volcanic and sedimentary rocks. Fluoride, along with other minerals, dissolves into bodies of water, especially groundwater. Thus most bodies of water already contain fluoride at or below the recommended levels. Due to the nature of the filtration and sanitation process that municipal water, or tap water, must undergo to be deemed potable, fluoride must actually be added back in. This is where the myth that fluoride is unnatural is derived. While fluoride in tap water is technically an added product, the compound itself occurs naturally in most bodies of water around the world.
Fluoride is dangerous
False. Fluoridation of public drinking water is a demonstrably safe practice as shown by over seven decades of physical evidence and experience. Not only is there a large body of literature demonstrating that controlled fluoridation of municipal water has no adverse effects, but there is also a significant amount of evidence that suggests NOT fluoridating can have severe adverse effects.
Fluoride is ineffective
False. Fluoride is proven to prevent cavities. The overwhelming scientific evidence speaks for itself.
Fluoride is expensive
False. According to multiple studies conducted by the CDC and other reputable organizations, it is far cheaper and more cost effective to prevent dental decay through water fluoridation rather than to treat decay after the fact. According to the studies by the CDC, a single dollar of investment in preventative fluoridation yielded $38 in return in cost savings. The studies only serve to prove the seemingly obvious notion that preventing cavities in the first place through mass distribution of a relatively cheap and abundant compound is much cheaper than extracting, treating, and repairing decayed teeth at the dentist’s office.
Fluoride is a plot to control our minds
False. As ridiculous as this claim may sound to most, the idea that water fluoridation was a nefarious plot concocted by America-hating communists was a very real phenomenon during the height of the Cold War. Unfortunately, the actual effect of the hysteria fabricated by anti-fluoridationists was a slowing of water fluoridation initiatives across the country effectively condemning millions of American children to increased risk of dental decay.
To Fluoride or Not To Fluoride?
Science Says ‘Yes’!
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