Author: Katie MacMillan
Fluoride is a mineral found in many places! It occurs naturally from rocks, soil, plants, air - even within our teeth and bones! (Cafasso, 2019). When shopping for toothpaste, you may see this in the ingredients list, as this mineral also helps strengthen your enamel through remineralization (Cafasso, 2019). Because it strengthens enamel, fluoride can subsequently help prevent tooth decay, meaning less cavities for you (Cafasso, 2019)!
The water supply in several communities across Canada often contains fluoride. This is called water fluoridation. In Canada, water fluoridation was first introduced in Brantford, Ontario in 1945 (Hancock, 2021). In 2009, 45% of Canadians had access to fluoridated water (Hancock, 2021).
Fluoridated water has many benefits. Since fluoride strengthens the outer layer of enamel on your teeth and decreases the risk of developing cavities, fluoridated drinking water has contributed to a progressive decline in the overall prevalence of tooth decay among Canadians (Hancock, 2021). This means less painful cavities and a lower chance for any decayed teeth to be removed (Hancock, 2021)!
Some studies have shown negative health effects from fluoridated water, such as lower IQ scores in children, bone cancer, arthritis, and kidney disease. However, the support for these studies are mixed and further investigations are needed, as these findings may be influenced by other factors that need to be explored (Cafasso, 2019). People who are concerned with ingesting fluoride may opt to drink bottled water instead, use toothpaste formulated without fluoride, or purchase a fluoride filter for their tap.
On the contrary, if you are living in a community in which water is not fluoridated, but you would like the benefits of using fluoride, you can use a toothpaste or mouthwash with fluoride, or even get fluoride treatment from the dentist!
There are also social implications of community water fluoridation. Oral health disparities are lower amongst individuals in communities with water fluoridation, compared to communities that do not have water fluoridation (Broadbent & Thomson, 2015). In a future post, we will investigate this phenomenon to a greater extent to shed light on why this relationship is present and how it influences social policy.
Cafasso, J. (2019, July 3). What is Fluoride, and Is It Safe? Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/what-is-fluoride