Fluoride: What is it?
Fluoride is a mineral found in rock and is a natural component of fresh water and sea water. In some areas of Africa and China, the natural fluoride content in the water is over 20 parts per million. People who live in those areas for a lifetime can have problems with their teeth and bones. In other areas, water contains just a trace amount of fluoride – not enough to strengthen teeth or bones.
Fluoride can be added or removed from water to bring fluoride to the optimum level for oral health. The optimum level of fluoride (0.7 parts fluoride per million parts water) produces a 25% decrease in cavities and also strengthens bones. But you have to drink the tap water! Since tap water is more highly regulated (and therefore cleaner) than bottled water, we should all be filling up our water bottles with tap water. Just make sure your water bottle does not contain Bisphenol A (BPA), a material found in some plastics.
Why has water fluoridation become political?
People who oppose fluoridation often publicly cite health concerns as the reason for their opposition. A professional poll of anti-fluoridationists, however, found that health concerns were actually number 8 on the list of 10 concerns. The primary reason people are opposed to fluoridation is for philosophical reasons.
Survey of Anti-fluoridationists
- Common sense
- Lack of benefits
- Other damage
- Health hazard
(Ernest Newbrun, DMD, PhD, JPHD 1996: Vol. 56, No. 5)
For more information about the political “debate,” please go to Campaign for Dental Health.