Q: Why is Fluoride So Important?

By Dr. Cheryl Bresnahan

We Support 70-years of FluoridationThe Center of Disease Control (CDC) named community water fluoridation 1 of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century because if its dramatic effect on preventing cavities by 25% in children and adults for over 70 years.

If fluoride is ingested when the teeth are developing in the jaw bone, it changes the composition of the enamel as it is growing by making it a much harder surface which is less likely to get cavities. Bottom line is that it saves people money because it prevents fillings and visits to the emergency room.

The City of Whitewater has not found any fluoride in any private well.

Fluoride tablet supplements are recommended by the ADA (American Dental Association) until age 16 if your child primarily drinks well or bottled water. In my experience, most parents do not elect to give their child fluoride supplements until age 16. Because the greatest benefit of taking fluoride tablets occurs when the teeth are developing in the jaw bone, it is highly recommended to take fluoride tablets until the enamel has completely and the 12 year molars have erupted and have had sealants placed which is after age 12. If you are drinking city water, then you do not need to take fluoride supplements.

Professionally applied fluoride treatments in the office prevent cavities by 30%.

Before fluoridation children had about 3 times as many cavities.There is controversy among people who follow a more natural diet and fluoride. Bottom line is that fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral in the ground. Like anything, if the concentration is too high, it can be toxic.

The City of Whitewater does fluoridate their municipal water to the recommended level of .7 ppm of fluoride as this is the new lower level optimum level at preventing tooth decay. As a comparison, a pea size amount of toothpaste contains 1,000 ppm of fluoride which is why toothpaste should never be swallowed. You can never bathe your teeth in enough fluoride, but you can swallow too much. If your child is not able to spit the toothpaste out after they have finished brushing their teeth, then use baby toothpaste that doesn’t have fluoride because even the children’s toothpaste has the same level of fluoride as adult toothpaste.

For those of you who would like more information, please visit the CDC’s fluoride resource page or the ADA’s online guide to fluoride in water.

Dr. Cheryl Bresnahan is a licensed dentist and the founder of Dental Perfections in Whitewater, WI. If you'd like to ask her a question, please visit the Ask Dr. Cheryl section of our Web site.