Calgary discontinued the use of fluoride in its drinking water in 2011 and as a result has seen an increase in tooth decay. Flouride is one of the most controversial topics recently, in addition to quick teeth whitening.
What is fluoride?
Fluoride is a natural mineral. There are several types of fluoride that occur naturally in nature found in soil, air or water, in various levels. Fluoride occurs naturally in all sources of water, including well water and even many brands of bottled water. It can also be found in some plant and animal food sources. Although there are some levels of fluoride in the food we eat, most people get their exposure to fluoride through dental products (such as toothpaste and mouth rinse), or drinking water.
The many benefits of fluoride:
- Around 25% cavity prevention rate in populations with fluoridated drinking water.
- Prevents bacteria and acids from eroding tooth enamel.
- It’s low cost. The average lifetime cost per person for fluoridated water is typically less than the cost of a dental filling for a cavity.
- City tap water is heavily tested for safe levels of fluoride so it is safe.
Historically, Canada has been adding and monitoring fluoride in its water for several decades. Brantford, Ontario became the first city in Canada to add fluoride to its water in 1945.
Cities that do add fluoride to their water supply must regulate the amounts closely for your safety. The minimum rate of effectiveness is 0.5 ppm (parts per million). In 2008, Health Canada released its recommendations for fluoridated drinking water. The research showed that 0.7 mg/L ppm gives the best benefits in protecting against dental cavities while minimizing other risks. The maximum allowable concentration of fluoride would remain at 1.5 ppm which is well below levels considered dangerous.
Although there are some risks with fluoride, when monitored and kept at low levels such as what has been used in dentistry and city water supplies, fluoride is safe. In fact, there is more danger in natural sources of water, such as wells, where there may be pre-existing high levels of fluoride in the water that may not be tested often enough.
Fluoride has been tested and proven safe for use for decades. We encourage our patients to continue recommended fluoride treatments. Please click on the following links for more information.