First off, fluoride occurs naturally in the water – just not always at high enough levels to strengthen the enamel of teeth. That’s why it is added to the central, public water supply by so many communities in the U.S. Strong teeth equals fewer trips to the dentist, and that is nothing but good — no matter how much you like your dentist.
Now, some perspective. Before community water fluoridation, losing teeth early in life was commonplace. In the initial years of World War II, the U.S. Army rejected thousands of would-be soldiers due to bad teeth — the number of disqualifications “far exceeded all expectations,” the Army reported.
Times have changed. Today, nearly two-thirds of Americans drink fluoridated water, and many more benefit from food and drinks produced with fluoridated water. The portion of people aged 65+ losing all of their teeth have dropped by 21 percent since the early 1960s. But there is still work to do. Children – especially poor children – without access to fluoridated water continue to suffer unnecessarily from oral health problems.
Sure, brushing regularly with fluoride toothpaste helps. But a recent review by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined that this is not enough to fully protect teeth. The CDC continues to recommend a fluoridation level of 0.7 parts per million. Without fluoridated water, we’re brushing off our oral health and kissing million of bright young smiles good-bye.
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