Are You Getting Your Fluoride?

Cosmetic_DentistryFluoride is a mineral added to the water system to reduce cavities. “Fluoride prevents demineralization of tooth enamel,” says Dr. Carol Ford from her Phoenix dental practice. “The result is fewer cavities, healthier teeth, and longer-lasting smiles for both children and adults,” she adds.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports “water fluoridation reduces tooth decay by about 25 percent over a person’s lifetime.” Other sources report up to 40 percent reduction in tooth decay, depending on length of use and amounts.

Why do adults, who have all their permanent teeth, need fluoride? Because our teeth lose minerals every day through acids and plaque found in the mouth, and they take on minerals from what we eat and drink. That exchange of minerals needs to stay in balance. If the balance tips toward losing minerals, the danger of cavities, even in adults, rises sharply. Fluoride is a mineral that exists naturally in food, water (even ocean water) and has been added to many city water supplies since the mid-1960s to encourage re-mineralization through the simple act of drinking water.

“People who drink only bottled water may not be getting enough fluoride,” says Dr. Ford. Many companies that bottle water remove Fluoride, particularly if the process of reverse osmosis is used.  According to the CDC, “The FDA does not require bottled water manufacturers to list the fluoride content on the label, but it does require that fluoride additives be listed. In 2006, the FDA approved labeling with the statement, “Drinking fluoridated water may reduce the risk of tooth decay,” if the bottled water contains from 0.6 mg/L to 1.0 mg/L.”

The only way to make sure your bottled water contains the right amount of Fluoride is to contact the manufacturer.

It’s important to ask your dentist if you are getting enough fluoride. It’s not just how much of the mineral is in the city water (Phoenix adds CDC-recommended levels of fluoride to the water), but what you eat, how much saliva you produce and how often you swallow. Together, you and your dentist need to decide if fluoride supplements are necessary.

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