How does fluoridated water actually work to protect teeth from tooth decay? It’s a question that some people may ask, so here’s the answer.
As this video explains, fluoridated water works two ways. First, for young children during the tooth-forming years, the fluoride that is swallowed helps to strengthen the enamel of the developing teeth, making it more resistant to decay. Second, for people of all ages, trace levels of fluoride (from tap water or beverages made with it) get mixed with the saliva that exists in the mouth and covers the teeth. Saliva neutralizes the acid made by bacteria causing the decay process, and as the acid is neutralized, the fluoride is absorbed by the tooth enamel to make it stronger.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fluoridated water works “mainly by providing teeth with frequent contact with low levels of fluoride throughout each day and throughout life.” A 2013 study published by the British Dental Journal reached this conclusion: “Fluoridation of the drinking water is still the optimal method of fluoride delivery.”
So spread the word to your friends, family and neighbors. Drinking fluoridated water remains a smart way to avoid tooth decay.