Having fluoride in your drinking water can save the American public millions of dollars via tooth decay prevention. A study conducted by the Colorado School of Public Health in 2013 concluded that by having community water fluoridated, it saved the over 200 million US population who had access to community fluoride water nearly $6.8 billion in dental treatment, or ~$32 per person. The study suggests the costs to implement water fluoridation systems (est $320 million) yielded a net saving of $6.5 billion, yielding an estimated ROI (return of investment) by nearly 20:1, an outstanding amount by any measure.

Though the initial costs to fluoridate the community water will differ and have an initial cost, this study suggests the outcome in terms of savings and positive health effects are high. Fluoridated community water not only prevents caries, but it saves money, time not spent in the dental office, and also promotes a healthy mental and physical outlook.

How Fluoride Works

Tooth enamel is composed of hyrdroxyapatite which is composed of calcium and phosphate. When you eat, there is food debris with sugars that is left behind on your teeth. Your mouth has thousands of bacteria, and these bacteria feed on the food sugars, which in turn release acids that attack teeth enamel and dentin, causing a cavity or tooth decay.

Mechanical tooth brushing and flossing helps dislodge the bacteria on the teeth, but cannot repair the enamel damage caused by the bacteria feeding on the food sugars. Saliva has basic pH, so it helps “neutralize” the bacterial releasing acids.

Fluoride works by interacting with hydroxyapatite, the tooth enamel’s normal composition. Topical fluoride via toothpaste, rinse, and varnish at the dental office increases the growth rate and size of the enamel crystals.  Systemic fluoride intake via drinking water replaces hyroxyapatite with fluorapatite, a crystal within in the tooth that incorporates fluoride, as the tooth bud develops. Fluorapatite is far more resistant to decay than hydroxapatite. The key is for the rate of deminineralization and remineralization to be in balance, and as long as such balance occurs, the teeth remain healthy and free from tooth decay.

Drinking Water

It is our recommendation that you check your city water to make sure you are getting fluoride in your drinking water. The optimal range is 0.7-1.2ppm. If your community water is not fluoridated or you frequently drink bottled water, a daily supplementation of fluoride rinses and fluoride tablets may be recommended to help decrease risk of tooth decay.  Be sure to consult with your family dentist regarding city water fluoridation if you have concerns of sufficient fluoride exposure.

Dr. Chien
1299 156th Ave NE #115
Bellevue, WA 98007
(425) 614-1600