The effect of fluoride on the teeth is well documented. Fluoride prevents tooth decay and keeps the enamel strong. The enamel is the outermost layer of the teeth and contributes to the grinding power of the teeth. People with strong enamel can chew better and are less prone to tooth decay.
The Ralston Dental and Cosmetic Clinic, a dental practice in Leicester, understands the importance of fluoride in the remineralisation of the teeth. All of their dental cleaning pastes include fluoride.
Viewed under a microscope, enamel consists of densely packed mineral crystals. When you eat, it strips away some of those crystals. The human body does not produce its own enamel, relying instead on remineralisation from food sources. One of the best ways to remineralise the enamel is to drink or gargle fluoridated water.
Importance of Fluoridated Water
Fluorine is a type of mineral that occurs naturally in water and in food. Spring water is especially rich in fluorine. Rocks and stones found in the ground leach the mineral into the water. When you sip fluoridated water throughout the day, this not only keeps the body hydrated, but also strengthens tooth enamel.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US estimates that fluoridated water reduces tooth decay by as much as 25%. Some communities have naturally occurring amounts of fluorine, but others do not.
In an effort to reduce tooth decay nationwide, the US government began adding fluorine to its water supply in the 1960s. The programme is successful and saves millions of dollars each year.
Fluoridated Water in the UK
In the UK, about 10% of the population receives fluoridated water. It is not as widespread as it is in the US, but more communities are working towards better distribution. Only 5.8 million people in the UK drink fluoridated water.
While many water plants in England contain some fluorine in them, the level is not enough to provide optimal protection against tooth decay. The recommended amount should be 1 ppm (parts-per-million) in concentration. It is a shame that it is not more widely distributed because of its tremendous health benefits. It is a great way to prevent tooth decay in children and adults alike.