It’s interesting to know:
- Fluoride prevents and can even reverse tooth decay.
- More than 60 percent of the U.S. population on public water supply systems has access to water fluoridated at approximately 1 part fluoride per million parts water — the optimal level for preventing tooth decay.
What is fluoride?
Fluoride is the name given to a group of compounds that are composed of the naturally occurring element fluorine and one or more other elements. Fluorides are present naturally in water and soil.
What is fluoridated water?
Virtually all water contains some amount of fluoride. Water fluoridation is the process of adding fluoride to the water supply so that the level reaches approximately 1 part fluoride per million parts water (ppm) or 1 milligram fluoride per liter of water (mg/L); this is the optimal level for preventing tooth decay.
Why fluoridate water?
In the early 1940s, scientists discovered that people who lived where drinking water supplies had naturally occurring fluoride levels of approximately 1.0 ppm had fewer dental caries (cavities). Many more recent studies have supported this finding.
Fluoride can prevent and even reverse tooth decay by enhancing remineralization, the process by which fluoride “rebuilds” tooth enamel that is beginning to decay.
When did water fluoridation begin in the U.S.?
In 1945, Grand Rapids, Michigan, adjusted the fluoride content of its water supply to 1.0 ppm and thus became the first city to implement community water fluoridation. By 1992, more than 60 percent of the U.S. population served by public water systems had access to water fluoridated at approximately 1.0 ppm, the optimal level to prevent tooth decay.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers fluoridation of water one of the greatest achievements in public health in the 20th century.
Where can people find additional information on fluoridated water?
The CDC Web site has information on standards for and surveillance of current fluoridated water supplies in the United States. Visit http://www.cdc.gov and search for “fluoridation.”
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Web site has more information about drinking water and health. It includes information about drinking water quality and standards. This Web site is located at http://www.epa.gov/safewater/ on the Internet.