- What is fluoride?
- How does fluoride in drinking water reduce tooth decay?
- How is fluoride added to a water system?
- Is adding fluoride safe?
- What are the additional benefits of fluoridation?
- What are the Department of Health guidelines for fluoride?
- More information and resources
What is Fluoride?
- Fluoride is a mineral found in varying amounts in all soils, plants, and water supplies.
- Fluoride is a nutrient that prevents tooth decay. Like other minerals in the diet, fluoride helps the body to resist disease, in this case, tooth decay.
- Fluoride is a natural part of tooth enamel and bone.
- Fluoride provides a benefit though two different mechanisms:
- Systemic fluoride is swallowed and benefits the teeth before and after they erupt in the mouth.
- Topical fluoride is applied directly to teeth. Topical fluoride benefits teeth that have already erupted into the mouth.
How does fluoride in drinking water reduce tooth decay?
- In the earliest stages of tooth decay, fluoride helps repair small areas of decay before they become large cavities.
- The presence of fluoride on the tooth surface makes plaque (germs) less able to cause decay.
- During tooth development, fluoride unites with the tooth surfaces, making them more resistant to decay.
How is fluoride added to a water system?
- A community that adds fluoride to its water system is simply adjusting the amount of natural fluoride found in the water to a level that is best for the dental health of its residents.
- A measured amount of fluoride solution is added to a water system in direct proportion to the water demands of a community. Fluoridation systems deliver fluoride in an accurate and controlled manner.
- There is no chemical difference between fluoride added to a water system and the natural fluoride found in the water.
Is adding fluoride to community water safe?
- Adding fluoride to drinking water at the optimal level is not harmful to your health. It does not cause cancer, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, AIDS, liver and kidney ailments or allergic reactions.
- Adjusting the natural fluoride content of drinking water to a level that improves dental health does not change the quality of the water.
- Fluoride is added only to a water system that is naturally deficient in this mineral.
What are the additional benefits of fluoridation?
- Reduction in pain, missing teeth, need for dentures and bridges, and less time lost from school and work.
- Reduce individual dental bills. Fluoridation reduces tooth decay by 20 to 40 percent.
- In Vermont, the cost of providing fluoridated water is a little over one dollar per person per year. For every dollar spent on fluoridation, up to $38 is saved in costs associated with dental care.
What are the Department of Health guidelines for fluoride?
The National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research and the Vermont Department of Health, Dental Health Services recommend the following guidelines for fluoride:
- Children should receive one, but only one, source of systemic fluoride togainst tooth decay.
- Children between 6 months and 16 years of age should receive fluoride supplements if they do not receive adequate fluoride in their drinking water.
For more information, please contact the Office of Oral Health at 802-863-7341.
More fluoride information and oral health resources
- Children's Dental Campaign - Pew Charitable Trusts
- Vermont State Dental Society
- American Dental Society
- American Public Health Association
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Contact the Office of Oral Health
Office of Oral Health
Vermont Department of Health
P.O. Box 70
108 Cherry Street
Burlington, VT 05402