fluoride, teeth, oral health, water, white teeth, grand rapids, kentwood

What Is Fluoride? Why Should I Be Using It?

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About Dr. Peter Zwier

For over 30 years, Dr. Peter J. Zwier has been providing a broad range of general and cosmetic dental services to Grand Rapids, meeting the needs of your whole family in one convenient location. Your oral health is extremely important to your body’s wellbeing, and a beautiful smile is a wonderful asset at any age.

Fluoride is a mineral that naturally occurs in nature. It naturally gets incorporated into many foods and water. Dentistry discovered the benefits of fluoride when a dentist in Colorado found that many of his young patients had brown stained teeth, but no cavities. Research was done and found that the local water which these children drank naturally had 14 part per million (ppm) of fluoride. Further research showed that brown staining dramatically increased in concentrations above 7 ppm, but that resistance to decay was excellent in a concentration of 1 ppm with no staining. A major study was conducted in 1945 when Grand Rapids, Michigan became the first city to add fluoride to it’s drinking water at 1 ppm. The control city for the study was Muskegon, Michigan which had the same water source for it’s drinking water; namely, Lake Michigan. Muskegon did not receive fluoridation. The reduction in decay was so dramatic within the first few years in Grand Rapids, compared to Muskegon, that Muskegon stopped being the control city; and started adding fluoride to it’s water as well.

Fluoride in community water supplies has been one of the most beneficial most beneficial measures ever taken on a city-wide basis. The amount of pain and suffering reduced, and the amount of health savings obtained by the population of people who drink this water on a regular basis is second to none.

How does this happen? When fluoride is incorporated into tooth enamel while it is forming, then it is found that teeth are harder and more cavity resistant. Fluoride in our toothpaste as well as in the water also makes the very outer layer of tooth structure harder and more cavity resistant. This outer layer is always engaged in a cycle of decalcification caused by bacteria which take sugar and produce acid, as well as acidic foods and beverages. Re- calcification comes from calcium in the saliva, or from fluoride in our toothpaste or drinking water.

Why, then are some people concerned about fluoride? A concentration of 14,000ppm of fluoride is used as a rat poison and is lethal to rats, not humans. That is a 14,000 times greater concentration than that of our drinking water. There are no legitimate health concerns from anything humans would ingest. Tubes of toothpaste do not contain enough fluoride to make a child sick to their stomach if they consumed the whole tube at one setting, let alone be lethal.

Do not let foolish fears prevent you or your loved ones from gaining all the advantages of fluoride. Removing fluoride from drinking water is not like removing chlorine by filtering water at your home. The chlorine has already done it’s job of keeping bacteria from multiplying and making us sick. However, not having children drink fluoridated water robs them of the benefit of reducing decay. The benefit doesn’t happen until they drink it. Don’t worry, be happy knowing you are smiling pretty because you and your family drank fluoridated water and have stronger, healthier teeth.