Last week, voters in Portland, Ore., surprisingly rejected a proposal to add fluoride to their city’s water supply. The city of 900,000 residents is the largest in the U.S. without public fluoridation, and this is the fourth time since 1956 that voters have decided to keep the chemical out of their water despite the fact that the practice is generally accepted as beneficial to dental health. The most common childhood disease is tooth decay, and 90 percent of this decay is preventable — especially with the help of water fluoridation.
Fluoridation of public drinking water started in 1945 in Grand Rapids, Mich., and since 1950, the American Dental Association has endorsed this practice as “as safe and effective for preventing tooth decay.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention even lists it as one of the “Ten Great Public Health Achievements in the 20th Century.” The ADA estimates that approximately 75% of Americans now live in areas with fluoridated drinking water.
Fluoride, a naturally occurring mineral, helps prevent cavities by helping replace minerals in the enamel of your teeth after they have been worn away by acids. Strong enamel keeps the tooth resistant to attacks from acids, plaque, and sugars. Studies have shown that fluoridation of public drinking water can reduce the risk of cavities by up to 40 percent.
Drinking water isn’t the only source of fluoride to help keep your teeth healthy. It’s found naturally in many foods, and brushing with fluoride toothpastes can also strengthen your enamel. Dr. Lee Fitzgerald may recommend prescription strength fluoride toothpaste such as Prevident or topical fluoride treatments for those patients with increased risk of tooth decay. Ask Dr. Fitzgerald or our hygiene or office staff if you would like more information on how to help keep your teeth strong and your smile bright.
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