Public Health Measure Ensures Middle Aged People Still Have Their Chompers

Posted & filed under Fluoride and Public Health.

ILMT-SC-1Among the generations of Americans who grew up before the implementation of community water fluoridation in the 1950s, some will likely tell you that “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone,” referring to the value of their teeth. In the early 1960s, fully 20 % of people between the ages of 45 and 54 had lost all of their permanent teeth. That’s 1 in 5 middle-aged adults. Can you imagine what life would be like if you lost ALL of your teeth?

Thanks in part to the implementation of community water fluoridation, “Tooth loss is no longer considered inevitable, and increasingly adults in the United States are retaining most of their teeth for a lifetime.” Studies have shown that community water fluoridation reduces tooth decay in adults by more than 25%.

“Since the early days of community water fluoridation, the prevalence of dental caries has declined in both communities with and communities without fluoridated water in the United States. This trend has been attributed largely to the diffusion of fluoridated water to areas without fluoridated water through bottling and processing of foods and beverages in areas with fluoridated water and widespread use of fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride toothpaste is efficacious in preventing dental caries, but its effectiveness depends on frequency of use by persons or their caregivers. In contrast, water fluoridation reaches all residents of communities and generally is not dependent on individual behavior.”

Fast forward 20 years, and data gathered following the implementation and diffusion of fluoridation show that only 9.1 % of middle-aged adults reported having lost all of their permanent teeth, a 10.9 % decrease.

Given these statistics, it is reasonable to say that people receiving the public health benefits of water fluoridation have a lot to be thankful for. They can rest easy knowing that in addition to good oral health practices, something as simple as drinking good old fashioned tap water helps ensure that their chompers serve them for years to come.