If you’re switched on when it comes to looking after your oral health, then you’re probably aware that fluoride is added to water to help keep your teeth healthy.
In this article, we’re going to explore the topic of community water fluoridation in NZ and understand its benefits when it comes to your teeth.
We’ll also look at other ways you can keep your teeth strong and healthy.
More about community water fluoridation
Community water fluoridation is considered a safe and effective way to improve people’s oral health.
“Fluoridation” means adding fluoride to water or adjusting its natural levels to an optimal amount.
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that’s present in the Earth’s crust and in many foods and drinks we consume.
It’s naturally present in drinking water but not in sufficient quantities to help prevent tooth decay. That’s why fluoridation is important — it ensures that the right amount is added to your drinking water supply so you can benefit from fluoride’s tooth-strengthening properties.
In New Zealand, local authorities are required to add fluoride to drinking water supplies to specified levels of between 0.7 ppm and 1 ppm (parts per million). You can check here to learn more about this process.
Tell me about fluoride
Fluoride works to strengthen your teeth in three ways. Firstly, it strengthens tooth enamel to prevent tooth decay. It also helps to fix early decay by replacing minerals found on your teeth’s surfaces. Finally, it reduces the growth of the bacteria that cause cavities.
Fluoridation is considered to be a safe way to reduce tooth decay for many people. However, while studies and monitoring have found no risk to health, there is a condition called fluorosis, which can affect children’s teeth if they are exposed to high levels of fluoride while their teeth are developing.
Mild fluorosis shows as fine lines or flecks of white on the surface of the teeth. In more severe cases, the tooth enamel becomes discoloured or pitted, although this is rare.
How else can I protect my teeth with fluoride?
Brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste is a simple way to help prevent tooth decay and keep fillings at bay.
Your toothpaste should contain at least 1,000 ppm of fluoride (0.221% sodium fluoride or 0.76% sodium monofluorophosphate) — you can check your toothpaste’s packaging to know the exact levels.
A pea-sized amount of toothpaste is ideal for adults, and half that amount is recommended for children.
Make sure you supervise young children when they brush their teeth so they don’t swallow or eat toothpaste, as this can lead to fluorosis.
In some cases, your dentist may recommend a fluoride mouthwash, gel, foam or varnish to help protect your teeth — ask them for details.
Keeping your smile bright and healthy
We hope you’ve enjoyed learning about the benefits of community water fluoridation. Know that it’s a simple and safe way to help keep your teeth healthy and decay-free.
Visiting your dentist on a regular basis is another essential part of your oral hygiene routine.
As well as checking your teeth and gums, we can advise you on all the ways you can prevent decay and keep that smile bright and healthy!