Let’s Hear it for Fluoridation!

The Centers for Disease Control(CDC) shares the following update about the success of  water fluoridation.


Community Water Fluoridation 70th Anniversary

 Fluoridation began in 1945.  Each generation has enjoyed better oral health than the previous one. Drink fluoridated water if it is available where you live and use fluoride toothpaste.

This year, the United States marks the 70th anniversary of community water fluoridation, one of public health’s greatest success stories.

Almost all water contains some naturally-occurring fluoride, but usually at levels too low to prevent tooth decay. Water fluoridation is the process of adding a small amount of fluoride to public water supplies to a level known to make teeth stronger and prevent cavities. In 1945, Grand Rapids, Michigan, was the first city in the U.S. to fluoridate its water, and by the early 1950’s, results were clear: Compared to school children from nearby areas that did not fluoridate their water, children in Grand Rapids had fewer cavities.

Since then, water fluoridation has been a major factor resulting in lower rates of tooth decay in the United States, with each generation enjoying better oral health than the previous one. As of 2012, more than 210 million people, or 3 in 4 Americans who use public water supplies, drank water with enough fluoride to prevent tooth decay.

Community Water Fluoridation helps maintain good oral health.

Effective and Safe

Fluoridated water is effective, because it keeps a low level of fluoride in the mouth, specifically in the dental plaque and saliva, all day. Even with the use of other fluoride products, such as toothpaste and mouth rinses, fluoridated water reduces tooth decay by 25% among children and adults. In communities with water fluoridation, school children have, on average, about 2 fewer decayed teeth compared to children who don’t live in fluoridated communities.

That’s important because oral health affects every aspect of our lives—diet, sleep, mental health, social connections, school, and work. Untreated tooth decay can cause pain, school absences, difficulty concentrating, and poor appearance—all contributing to reduced quality of life and ability to succeed.

Fluoridation has been identified as the most feasible and cost-effective method of delivering fluoride to all members of the community, regardless of age, education, or income. These advantages combined with fluoridation’s contribution to dramatic declines in both the prevalence and severity of tooth decay led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to name water fluoridation as one of ten great public health achievements of the 20th century.

Scientists in the United States and other countries have studied the safety and benefits of fluoridated water for decades, and found no convincing evidence to link water fluoridation and any potential unwanted health effect other than dental fluorosis.

Dental Fluorosis

Dental fluorosis is a change in the appearance of tooth enamel. It can occur when young children (less than 8 years of age) regularly take in fluoride when their permanent teeth are still developing.

Today there are more sources of fluoride, such as toothpaste and mouth rinse, than when fluoridation was first introduced. With greater availability of fluoride, there has been an increase in the dental fluorosis. Most dental fluorosis in the U.S.—more than 90 percent—appears in its milder forms as white spots on the tooth surface that may not be noticed.

To balance the benefits of fluoridation with the chance for dental fluorosis, the US Public Health Service just published an updated recommendation for the optimal level of fluoride in drinking water to prevent tooth decay[403 KB]. The new recommendation sets the level of fluoride in drinking water at 0.7 mg/liter. This new guidance updates and replaces the previous recommended range of 0.7 mg/L to 1.2 mg/L. It is important to note that there is no federal “requirement” to fluoridate. States and local communities decide whether to fluoridate or not. CDC’s Division of Oral Health does provide technical help and training for state fluoridation programs.

Basic Tips for Good Oral Health

Drink fluoridated water if it is available where you live and use fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride’s protection against tooth decay works at all ages. If your drinking water is not fluoridated, ask your dentist, family doctor, or pediatrician if your child needs oral fluoride supplements, like drops, tablets, or lozenges.


Christmas Treats and Oral Hygiene

The holidays bring with them extra helpings of sweets. So, it is a good time to review your child’s oral hygiene routine.

Unfortunately, tooth decay affects 50 percent of first-graders and 80 percent of 17-year-olds.

The National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research estimates that children will miss 52 million hours of school each year due to oral health problems and about 12.5 million days of restricted activity every year from dental symptoms.

Tooth brush etc

The American Dental Hygiene Association states that a good oral hygiene routine for children includes:

  • Thoroughly cleaning your infant’s gums after each feeding with a water-soaked infant cloth. This stimulates the gum tissue and removes food.
  • Gently brushing your baby’s erupted teeth with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and using a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste.
  • Teaching your child at age 2 or 3 about proper brushing techniques and later teaching them brushing and gentle flossing until 7 or 8 years old.
  • Regular visits with their dentist to check for cavities in the primary teeth and for possible developmental problems.
  • Encouraging your child to discuss any fears they may have about oral health visits, but not mentioning words like “pain” or “hurt,” since this may instill the possibility of pain in the child’s thought process.
  • Determining if the water supply that serves your home is fluoridated; if not, discussing supplement options with your dentist or hygienist.
  • Asking your hygienist or dentist about sealant applications to protect your child’s teeth-chewing surfaces and about bottle tooth decay, which occurs when teeth are frequently exposed to sugared liquid

Because oral problems cause such a significant loss in children’s academic performance, the Surgeon General has made children’s oral health a priority.


Happy, Healthy Futures Begin With Good Oral Health Habits

Oral health Foundation logoThe following post comes from Fern K. Ingber, MEd, President and CEO of the National Children’s Oral Health Foundation.

Where has the summer gone?  Back-to-school is upon us again.  Keeping children healthy is a top priority for both parents and educators.  Help your child start the school year off right by establishing positive oral health habits that will contribute to a lifetime of good health.

Pediatric dental disease, more commonly known as tooth decay, is the #1 chronic childhood disease.  It may seem absurd to you that tooth decay has reached epidemic proportions, but a 2007 study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control determined that one in every five three-year-olds suffers from tooth decay.  You will be even more surprised to learn that more than 40 percent of children have tooth decay by the time they start kindergarten!

Many fail to realize that oral health is integral to overall systemic health.

The mouth is the gateway to the body and serves as a portal for nutritional intake as well as a potential site for microbial infections that can adversely affect general health status. According to the Academy of Pediatrics, lack of proper oral health care can lead to the development of rampant tooth decay, which can cause pain, infection, difficulty speaking and concentrating, malnutrition and sleep deprivation.  Not surprisingly, these factors can negatively impact a child’s growth and ability to learn.

In fact, over 51 million hours of school are missed annually due to dental disease, contributing to increased educational disparities.  In addition, untreated dental disease can contribute to low self-esteem, a key factor in a child’s quality of life and ability to succeed.  However, tooth decay is preventable as is the destruction it leaves in its wake.

Instilling good oral health habits in children is a crucial step in fighting tooth decay. A common misconception is that the primary teeth, what we often refer to as baby teeth, are not important.  Primary teeth play an important role speech development, a child’s appearance and facial structure, nutrition and ensuring that permanent teeth erupt in their normal positions. Although baby teeth are eventually replaced with permanent teeth, it is essential to keep them healthy.  Decay and infection in baby teeth can cause damage to developing permanent teeth.

Here are a few tips to help you maintain your child’s oral health and give them the building blocks they need for happy, healthy futures.

  • Invest in a new toothbrush at least every three months and after every illness to avoid lingering bacteria and germs.
  • Encourage your child to eat healthy snacks such as fruit, vegetables, cheese and yogurt.  Avoid starchy and sticky snacks that can cling to teeth and cause decay.
  • Brush and floss at least twice a day.  (Parents should supervise these activities until children are 8 or 9 years of age as most younger children do not possess the manual dexterity necessary to brush every tooth surface.)
  • Children should visit their dentist once every six months.

To learn more about how you can save children from preventable pain and eliminate the devastating effects of tooth decay, visit www.AmericasToothfairy.org.

Pres of Oral Health FoundationAbout Fern K. Ingber, MEdFern Ingber is founding President and CEO of the National Children’s Oral Health Foundation: America’s Toothfairy® (NCOHF), established in 2006 by a group of concerned dental professionals to address the nation’s most common chronic childhood illness – pediatric dental disease.  Under Ms. Ingber’s leadership, NCOHF has delivered over $9 million in financial and product support to affiliate nonprofit oral health programs, reaching more than 1 million children with comprehensive care.


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