The effect of water fluoridation on enamel demineralization throughout life: a public health debate
Russell, Brianna Christine
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With rising cost of dental care it is important to have a good preventative measure to help improve and keep excellent oral health. The aim of this study is to determine the effect of fluoride on enamel demineralization and therefore future dental decay. There are many forms of fluoride both systemic and topical each with their own types of benefits. The topical forms include toothpastes, mouthwashes, drops and vanishes, whereas the systemic forms are typically ingested examples being water, and other types of food. Fluoride was introduced into water sources previously in many countries and was considered a great public health advancement. It has been shown to help stop demineralization of enamel, the outer surface of teeth, which therefore prevents the formation of dental decay or dental caries. To examine the effectiveness of water fluoridation in particular, a variety of research studies from various countries and reputable sources were examined. There are many studies evaluating the long lasting effects that fluoride can have, but limitations, including funding and confounding variables, have led to less conclusive results. From the research presented here, there is conclusive evidence that introducing fluoride into the local water source is a cost effective way to reach a large number of people and improve the oral health of many people all at once. There are some potentially negative side effects with high doses therefore it is an issue of constant public debate. However, after gathering the results from many of these sources the only negative side effect that has been scientifically supported is the potential for dental fluorosis, and only occurs at high levels of fluoride and often it was only a cosmetic concern. Therefore, in the case of water fluoridation the health benefits outweigh the risks and it should continue to be a part of the community water where ever available.