Fluoride was initially added to the drinking water in places like the USA because research had shown its benefits. Populations that already drank water with natural fluoride content were show to have less dental decay. So small amounts of fluoride were added to tap water, and there was a noticeable improvement in dental health.
There is some controversy over fluoride in tap water. It is known that high levels of fluoride will cause problems, raging from tooth discolouration to cognitive issues (poor memory than thinking), especially in developing children. But the levels that cause problems are far higher than the small levels found in tap water. And fluoride does occur naturally in foods, so we always have some of it on our body system. Indeed, like copper or sodium it seems we need a small amount of these trace elements to survive. But we suffer if we have excessive amounts.
Fluoride helps to harden the enamel of a tooth’s surface. It even helps when teeth show early signs of decay; fluoride can actually help repair enamel than has decalcified, the first sign of decay. A constant low level supply of fluoride, as in drinking water, is the best way to apply fluoride to our teeth.
Government put fluoride in drinking water on the basis that ‘prevention is better than cure’. It is better, and cheaper, to prevent tooth decay problems in the population than it is to undergo expensive dental work latter on.
Strangely, the trend to drinking more water, which started in the 1990’s, had actually made dental problems worse, at least in some ways. While drinking water is certainly healthy, and while is certainly helps cleans teeth, the trend has been towards bottled water, which is usually fluoride free.
We might do well to add fluoride to our dental routine, perhaps by using mouthwash several times per day, it we insist on drinking bottled water.
We need a small amount of fluoride to help fight dental decay. Discuss the best options with your dentist.
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