Does Fluoridated Water Really Help Your Teeth?
Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in water, soil, and air. While almost all water contains some fluoride, it’s usually not enough to prevent tooth decay, which is why fluoride is often added to community drinking water. Before we get into how fluoridated water can really help your teeth, let’s explore how fluoride works. Fluoride improves your oral health by remineralizing tooth surfaces and preventing cavities from forming. Fluoride can help counteract the minerals that form on the surface of the tooth due to the bacteria in the mouth. Oftentimes this bacteria is caused by eating sugar or other refined carbohydrates.
What is fluoridated water?
Simply put, fluoridated water is the addition of fluoride to the public water supply for the purpose of reducing tooth decay. Fluoridated water was introduced to the United States in the early 20th century, when scientists first discovered that naturally occurring fluoridated water was linked to lower levels of tooth decay. After this discovery, and subsequent studies that showed lower levels of tooth cavities in schoolchildren, water fluoridation spread from Grand Rapids, Michigan (the first city to fluoridate their water) to other towns and cities across America.
To this day, fluoride continues to be added to a large number of community water supplies, and has played a significant role in reducing tooth decay. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention named the public fluoridation of water as one of the ten great public health achievements of the 20th century.
Studies have shown water fluoridation has reduced tooth decay by more than 25 percent, which is incredible considering the widespread use of other fluoridated healthcare items, such as fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash. Having fluoride in your mouth, and thereby your saliva, not only helps prevent tooth decay, but it also stops the tooth decaying process in its tracks.
How do I know if my water is fluoridated?
Now that you understand that fluoridated water prevents tooth decay, you may be wondering how you can tell if your water contains fluoride. You can contact your public water system to learn more about fluoride levels in your water. Every public water system publishes a publicly available consumer confidence report each year, which provides a breakdown of which water systems add fluoride to their water. A great resource is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. You can filter by your state and county to learn more about the fluoride level in your drinking water.
Is bottled water fluoridated water?
Bottled water may not have sufficient levels of fluoride. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sets limits on fluoride in bottled water, based on many factors, including the source of the water. If the water bottle or packaging states it has been de-ionized, purified, demineralized, or distilled, it likely does not have fluoride, unless it’s been added as an ingredient. The FDA does not require water manufacturers to list the amount of fluoride on the label, so you would need to contact the manufacturer directly to determine the fluoride levels in the specific brand of bottled water in question.
Given the health benefits and availability of fluoride, drinking water with fluoride provides a simple, yet effective, way to improve your oral health.
At Milnor Orthodontics, our experts are here to help you achieve a priceless smile. Call our office at (970) 230-3187 or visit milnororthodontics.com to learn more. We're located at 1103 S. Shields St. in Fort Collins, Colorado.