Dentistry In The News: Fluoride

Fluoride Benefits vs Fluoride Controversy

The issue of whether fluoridated water is necessary is one of the most hotly-debated topics among dental communities, parents of young children, health and wellness bloggers, and scientists – just to name a few. One simple internet search for “fluoride debate” results in countless links to scientific studies and anti-fluoride groups.

In spite of the controversy surrounding fluoride consumption, its benefits are clear. Fluoride was introduced more than half a century ago, and in that time, rates of dental caries have declined. In fact, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed water fluoridation as one of the ten great public health achievements of the 20th century. According to U.S. Deputy Surgeon General Rear Admiral Boris D. Lushniak, M.D., M.P.H., fluoridated water has served as “the basis for the primary prevention of tooth decay for nearly 70 years.”

Photo by  Michael Silberstein

Portland OR. Photo by Michael Silberstein

Main Arguments from Both Sides of the Fluoride Debate –
Those who oppose fluoridated water believe that most forms of topical fluoride — such as toothpaste, mouth rinses and fluoride treatments provided by your dentist — are sufficient enough that we don’t need to ingest it. For instance, Portland, Oregon is one of the largest cities that has banned water fluoridation since 1956. A plethora of other cities in the nation are petitioning to have it removed from their community water sources as well. According to the Fluoride Action Network, 176 communities have removed fluoride from their water since 2010.

However, others argue that ingested fluoride is incorporated into the tooth structure, giving strength and long-lasting protection. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported in April, 2015 that water fluoridation at “.7 milligrams per liter of water” is sufficient to help prevent tooth decay, while also protecting against excess fluoride in the mouth.

Also, in 2005, the American Dental Association revised their comprehensive study, Fluoridation Facts, which provides a host of information for people seeking facts about fluoridation. It would make a great reading recommendation for your staff in order to help inform patients about the benefits of fluoride.

As a dentist or hygienist, more than likely you support fluoridated water. However, some of your patients who oppose it could be purchasing distilled water or using reverse osmosis systems to purify their water. If this is the case, and patients are not opposed to topical treatments, there are numerous dental supplies you can suggest to them:

These are just three of the take home fluoride options out there for patients who live in cities that have removed fluoride from the water source. It’s in these areas that topical treatments – done in the office and at home – are crucial in preventing tooth decay and dental caries.

Top In-Office Fluoride Treatments:

To protect dental patients’ oral health, Sodium Fluoride Varnish can prolong the benefits of fluoride – making the varnish a welcome addition to your dental suppliesVarnishes can be applied quickly, safely, and with few known complications or side effects — important for kids and those with special needs. 

  • The number one varnish in North America, Vanish, includes a proprietary Tri-Calcium Phosphate (TCP) formula that keeps healthy minerals in the mouth for up to 24 hours after application.
  • The brand, ClearShield®, goes on clear, with no embarrassing discoloration. Plus it contains Xylitol.
  • MI Varnish™ with Recaldent (CPP-APP), is a topical fluoride varnish with Calcium and Phosphate. It is used for treatment of patients with dentinal hypersensitivity. It helps to make fluoride more bioavailable in order to gain that extra boost of protection from the calcium and phosphate.

There’s no denying that fluoride in the right amounts can be beneficial to our oral health.

So tell us, what’s your stance on fluoridated water? How do you respond to patients who are opposed to all forms of fluoride? Let us know in the comments!