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What are the Benefits of Water Fluoridation?

What is Fluoride?

Position Statements
on Municipal Water Fluoridation

Simcoe Muskoka
District Health Unit

Association of Local Public Health Agencies (alPHa)

Drinking Water Fluoridation: Statement From Dr. Arlene King, Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario  (English) (French)

Fluoride is a natural element found in rocks and soil.  Nature puts some fluoride into all water. When fluoride levels in water are at appropriate levels, tooth decay is limited and oral health is improved. A very small number of Simcoe-Muskoka residents live in areas with adequate natural fluoride present in water; however most communities must add fluoride to water.

 

What is fluoridation?

Fluoridation is the adjustment of fluoride levels in water to benefit dental health. The addition of fluoride to water has worked to reduce tooth decay in communities around the world for more than 60 years. Communities in Simcoe Muskoka which have fluoride added to their drinking water include: Bracebridge, Gravenhurst, Port Carling, Bala, MacTier and Base Borden. Orillia considered the adding of fluoride to their municipal drinking supply but after public consultations, voted against the proposal on July 16, 2012. 

 

What are the benefits of fluoridation?

Fluoridation is an effective and inexpensive measure to improve oral health in communities. Research shows that children who drink water fluoridated at optimal levels can experience 20 to 40 per cent less tooth decay. Fluoridation also reduces tooth decay among adults and seniors in these communities.

 

Why is water fluoridation needed in our community?

Only about 3.5% of the residents of Simcoe and Muskoka have access to fluoridated drinking water. When the dental health of children in Simcoe and Muskoka is compared to other health unit regions, the amount of tooth decay is worse than in many other parts of Ontario. Tooth pain is one of the top reasons for people without family doctors to visit the emergency department. You can find out more about the local situation in the report Oral Health in Simcoe and Muskoka.

Tooth decay can be a serious issue. For children the pain can distract them from school classes, hamper their eating habits and create self-esteem problems. For adults it can result in missed time from work. For all, there is a risk of infection spreading to become serious illness.

Community water fluoridation is a safe and effective way of creating greater protection against tooth decay in the whole population, regardless of age, income or education level. It is also inexpensive for municipalities to add to their drinking water treatment systems.

 

Is fluoridation safe?

Ongoing research indicates that water fluoridation is safe and beneficial at controlled levels. Simcoe County is not optimally fluoridated but 30% of Muskoka District residents have access to optimally fluoridated water at 0.6 - 0.8 parts per million (ppm).

 

Can children get too much fluoride from drinking fluoridated water?

If a child is taking in too much fluoride, it is most commonly because he/she is swallowing toothpaste. Most toothpastes contain fluoride at 1000 ppm—far greater than the recommended maximum guideline for water fluoridation. Children should use no more than a pea-sized amount of toothpaste, which should be spit out after brushing.  Consuming too much fluoride while teeth are developing (up to age 8 years) puts the child at risk for dental fluorosis. Parent should supervise children brushing their teeth.  

 

What is dental fluorosis?

Dental fluorosis is not a disease, but a change in the appearance of tooth enamel which may result in whitish lines or mottled areas. Dental fluorosis is usually mild and not readily noticed.  In rare cases, the enamel may appear stained and pitted.

 

Should fluoridated water be used to make infant formula?

In 2006, a U.S. study indicated that infant formula made with water fluoridated at 1 ppm or more could put children at a higher risk for dental fluorosis. Simcoe County, except for Base Borden is not fluoridated. Base Borden and Muskoka District communities which have fluoride added to the drinking water are maintained in the recommended range of 0.6 - 0.8 ppm. Dental fluorosis is unlikely to occur at these levels. The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first 6 months and up to 2 years of age.

Review information and research on oral health in Simcoe Muskoka, oral health benefits and safety of fluoridation, fluoridation myths and facts, and more.

More questions?

The Canadian Dental Hygienists Association has compiled a helpful set of answers to common questions

If you have questions please contact Your Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520

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