Tooth decay is a dental problem that can lead to brain and heart infections if left untreated. Fortunately, tooth decay has been on the decline in Atlanta, GA, and the rest of the US since the 1940s. Why? The answer is fluoride.
What is Water Fluoride?
Fluoride, also called nature’s cavity fighter, consists of fluorine and other naturally occurring elements. The mineral prevents caries in adults and children by strengthening the tooth enamel. It accomplishes this by joining calcium and phosphate in the enamel, increasing the resistance of your teeth to acid attacks and other factors that cause tooth decay.
The American Dental Association (ADA) describes the compound as safe for children and adults. It also recommends water fluoridation as a way to prevent tooth decay.
Water fluoridation involves adding fluoride to a community’s water supply. Maintaining the fluoride in water to 0.7 milligrams of fluoride per liter of water (0.7 ppm) significantly reduces the risk of dental disease.
All public water supplies in Atlanta, GA, contain the levels of fluoride recommended by the ADA to protect oral health.
How Water Fluoridation Began?
Fluoride levels in most rain, ground, and surface water are not enough to prevent tooth-related problems. In the 1940s, a study revealed that individuals living in regions where the fluoride levels were above 1.0ppm had fewer dental caries cases.
In response to this finding, the city of Grand Rapids, MI, decided to add 1.0ppm of fluoride to its community’s water. Today, over 70% of tap water in the US, including that in Atlanta, is fluoridated water.
According to the CDC, community water fluoridation is among the most successful public health measures taken in the US. Thanks to it, oral health in Atlanta and the rest of the US has significantly improved.
How Much Fluoride is in Our Drinking Water?
The exact amount of fluoride in your drinking water depends on various factors, including your location, water supplier, and more. A 2015 recommendation by the US Department of Health and Human Services states that fluoride added to drinking water must not exceed 0.7ppm.
Before the 2015 recommendation, the accepted fluoride level per liter of water to protect dental health was 0.7 to 1.2 ppm. The new recommendation was in response to an increase in fluoride consumption among Americans. The rise in fluoride use is due to the increased fluoride content in various dental products, including toothpaste and mouthwash.
How is Fluoride used in the Dental Office?
Besides preventing tooth enamel decay or caries, fluoride can treat cavities. Dental professionals use these two types of fluoride treatments to treat cavities:
- Acidulated phosphate fluoride gels and foams
- Neutral sodium fluoride gels, foams, and varnish
These fluoride treatments contain a higher level of the mineral and trigger calcium fluoride formation within the enamel. Many dentists prefer sodium fluoride because it does not damage porcelain and ceramic implants.
At My Emergency Dental, we use fluoride varnish instead of foam because it is suitable for children and adults. The ADA also recommends using varnish because it contains a higher ppm concentration and is suitable for intraoral usage.
We frequently monitor ADA and AAPD guidelines to identify the latest recommendations regarding fluoride usage.
How Often Should You Use Fluoride Products?
The fluoride in water provided by the City of Atlanta is sufficient to protect your oral health. If public water supplies do not reach your Atlanta location, get your daily fluoride dose from using over-the-counter fluoride toothpaste. Good-quality fluoride toothpaste will have the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
For the best results, brush at least twice a day or as recommended by your dentist. You can also use a mouthwash that contains fluoride to strengthen your teeth.
Alternatively, get a prescription for fluoride supplements. Always provide your dentist or physician with accurate health information when requesting a fluoride supplement prescription. Otherwise, they won’t be able to provide you with correct medical advice.
How Much Fluoride is Healthy to Have?
The benefits of fluoride are plentiful, but overuse can cause health problems. If your water comes from an Atlanta community water system and you brush your teeth with fluoride products, your fluoride intake should be sufficient.
The ADA recommends that children under the age of three brush twice a day (morning and night) or as directed by a dentist and physician. Adults can use mouthwash with fluoride, but children under six years must not use such products unless recommended by a dentist.
Excess fluoride in water or your teeth cleaning regimen can cause dental or skeletal fluorosis. Dental fluorosis manifests as mottled or discolored teeth, while skeletal fluorosis reduces bone elasticity and increases the likelihood of breakage. This bone disease can also impair joint mobility.
The ADA, American Academy of Pediatrics, and World Health Organization recommend that communities add fluoride to their water supply. If you live in the Greater Atlanta Area and suspect you have excess or insufficient fluoride in your water, visit My Emergency Dental to have your teeth checked.
Contact us today at 470-523-8118 to make an appointment.