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What is fluoride?

  • negative ion of the non-metallic pale yellow gaseous element fluorine
  • fluorine - atomic number 9, atomic mass 19
  • first member of the halogen group of elements
  • occurs as a natural mineral in many forms and is frequently found in water naturally
  • flurospar and fluorapatite

Fluoride and dental caries

  • in 1942, Dean et al published an epidemiological study on children living in 20 towns in the USA, relating caries experience and fluoride content in drinking water
  • 1ppm fluoride found optimal level for caries reduction without mottling being evident

Artificially fluoridated water

  • US Public Health Service decided to test the hypothesis by a study of two towns, Grand Rapids and Muskegon
  • in January 1945, Grand Rapids artificially fluoridated water to 1ppm
  • Arnold et al (1953) reported that the caries experience of six year olds nearly halved in comparison to the control

Naturally fluoridated water

  • some parts of the world have very high levels of fluoride in the water
  • mottling does occur in these areas; in some parts of Africa and the Indian Subcontinent where deep underground water supplies are used, the teeth can be almost black in appearence

Fluoridation in the UK

  • Birmingham and Newcastle have fluoridated water supplies
  • only 10% of the UK population have fluoridated water
  • in the USA, almost 70% of the population receive fluoridated water
  • the government has recently back the fluoridation of water

Fluoride in drinking water

  • effective, safe and cheapest way of preventing caries
  • ideal fluoride supplement - safe, low concentration, used frequently and does not involve cooperation from the patient

Objections to fluoridation of water

  • mass medication
  • removes personal choice (can be removed by a chalk filter)
  • may be thought to be harmful
  • interferes with herbal and alternative medicines

How does fluoride protect our teeth?

  • topical effects (post eruptive) are more…


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