Dental Decay & Fluorinated Water

Last Editorial Review: 7/7/2004

In 1945 the practice of adjusting fluoride levels in community water systems was introduced in the U.S. Since then, the number of people with access to water with dentally significant levels of fluoride (0.7 parts per million or higher) has increased steadily to approximately 60 percent of the total U.S. population. Fluoridation of drinking water is considered one of the top achievements in Public Health during the 20th century.

Fluoridation of community drinking water is a major factor responsible for the decline in tooth decay (dental caries) during the second half of the 20th century. Dental caries, or "cavities," is an infectious condition in which bacteria dissolve the enamel surface of a tooth. Unchecked, the bacteria may penetrate the underlying tender layers of the tooth (dentin) and progress to damage the central life-giving core (soft pulp) tissue. Dental caries can result in the loss of the tooth as well as pain. Untreated dental caries can lead to incapacitating pain, a bacterial infection that leads to death of the tooth, tooth extraction, and jaw bone infection, which can spread throughout the body.

For more, please visit the Dental Cavities Center.

Source: Public Health Bulletin Fall 2000

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