North Central Health District

COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENTS

Fluoride Helps Fight Cavities and Protects Health

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Communities with Water Fluoridation Experience 25% Less Tooth Decay

With the upcoming local vote on community water fluoridation in Crawford County, it is important for all citizens to have the knowledge necessary to make an informed decision about the future of their community.

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in soil, water and air. Every natural source of water from rivers and ponds to lakes and oceans have varying amounts of fluoride present. However, the natural amount of fluoride in drinking water is not enough to have a positive impact on health, so many communities add fluoride as a public health measure to fight against tooth decay.

“Fluoridation of drinking water is a simple and effective way to protect the well-being, and of course, the smiles across our neighborhoods,” said Melissa Smith, RN, Nurse Manager of Crawford County Health Department, and registered dental hygienist.

Fluoridation of community drinking water, which started in the U.S. in the 1940s and in Georgia in 1951, is responsible for the substantial decreases in cavities across the country. The practice has had such a positive impact on health that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) included fluoridation in its list of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.

Oral health is an essential part of a person’s general health. Community water fluoridation is a safe, healthy and efficient way to protect the oral health and dental hygiene of citizens. Areas with fluoridated drinking water experience a 25% decrease of tooth decay in both children and adults. The practice is also linked to decreases in school absences due to dental-related illnesses in children.

“Oral health in our county has improved greatly generation to generation, but cavities are still one of the most common dental diseases in our children,” said Jessica Martinez, RDH, North Central Health District Oral Health Program Manager. “Children are not the only ones that benefit from community water fluoridation; no matter a person’s age, fluoride at the recommended levels is good for their oral health.”

Over 75 years of research has shown the optimal level of fluoride in drinking water is 0.7 milligrams of fluoride in a liter of water (0.7 mg/L, aka parts per million). This amount takes into account the amount of fluoride people regularly encounter such as that in toothpaste, mouthwash, supplements and other common sources. It reduces cavities for everyone, regardless of age, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, level of education, race, or access to a dentist.

Fluoridation helps protect against tooth decay in those with limited access to prevention services. People without easy access to dental services, those with chronic health conditions and other vulnerable groups benefit from fluoridated drinking water. With COVID-19 impacting our state’s employment, those without jobs and insurance face new barriers to receiving regular dental care. Community water fluoridation can help all by providing an easy way to maintain oral health.

“Our county’s health is our number one priority, and water fluoridation can be another tool to keep everyone as healthy as possible,” said Smith.

Learn more about community water fluoridation at cdc.gov/fluoridation and ada.org/en/public-programs/advocating-for-the-public/fluoride-and-fluoridation. For more information on the Georgia Department of Public Health’s Oral Health Program, visit dph.georgia.gov/oralhealthprogramga.

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