What Is Fluoride?

Fluoride (a salt) is a compound that forms when fluorine is combined with minerals from rocks or soil. It is soluble in water. Many communities add fluoride to drinking water to promote dental health.

How Does Fluoride Promote Dental Health

Studies have shown that fluoride reduces cavities. Initially, studies put this number at 60%, but it has since dropped to about 30-40%. That reduction is likely because since that time fluoride has been added to toothpaste and increased use of fluoridated water and food.

The American Dental Association Endorses Fluoride

The ADA and the US Surgeons General endorse the use of fluoride. The ADA lists the top ten reasons to fluoridate public drinking water:

  1. It’s natural. Fluoride is already present in our water, including the ocean. Fluoridating our water is just adjusting the level (which is regulated the Environmental Protection Agency) to prevent tooth decay.
  2. It’s the “single most effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay.” According to the ADA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention heralded fluoridation of public drinking water as one of the top public health accomplishments in the 20th century.
  3. Water fluoridation prevents one of the most common youth dental diseases: tooth decay. It is estimated more than 50 million school hours are lost every year “due to dental-related illness.”
  4. It protects everyone from cavities. Both children and adults benefit from tooth decay prevention.
  5. It’s safe, and it works. Studies for more than 50 years have repeatedly shown fluoridating public drinking water is both effective and safe.
  6. It’s just like fortifying other drinks and foods. Your vitamin D milk is fortified. Your iodine salt is fortified. Your orange juice is fortified with calcium. Fluoridating water is the same concept.
  7. It’s cost effective. According to the ADA, “the average lifetime cost per person to fluoridate a water supply is less than the cost of one dental filling. For most cities, every $1 invested in water fluoridation saves $38 in dental treatment costs.”
  8. Endorsed by the ADA. The American Dental Association is one of the most respected organizations for information on fluoridation.
  9. Availability continues to increase. The ADA states “In 2010, 73.9 percent of the U.S. population on public water systems (204.3 million people) received fluoridated water. This is an increase of almost nine percent from 2000. The Healthy People 2020 goal is for 79.6 percent of the population on public water systems to have access to fluoridated water.”
  10. Respected organizations endorse it. From the ADA to the CDC to the AMA along with the World Health Organization and more than 100 others, the top health organizations recognize the important public health benefits water fluoridation provides.