Like most people, I probably watch too much TV. NBC's Parks and Recreation is our (my wife and I) favorite. My love for this show has now peaked, with the introduction of Jeremy Jamm. Yes, he is a dentist (orthodontist), and he is hilarious. I won't belabor this point, but you should just check out the show, and get "Jammed."
Recently on the show, Jamm played the role of a nefarious city council member who was opposing community water fluoridation of the fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana (while instead favoring the supplementation of the water with "Drinkums," a sugary product of a fictitious snack company). While the show broached this topic in a hilarious way, the outcry of the townspeople and fellow city council members was historically accurate and satirical. A couple of the paraphrased comments included, "Fluoride is used by the communists to control our minds," "Cavities are why small-town dentists like me can afford such boss rides." There have been numerous unsubstantiated claims that fluoride is linked to x-y-z. If you are so inclined, you can search for those yourself. The only certainty is that the most common disease in America, which also happens to be one of the largest causes for absenteeism in our schools, is actually helped by water fluoridation. I am of course talking about tooth decay.
I am from a high risk cavity area, and did not have fluoridated municipal water (my fellow Big Creekers will recall "City Water") until my freshman year of high school. In elementary school, we used to have to use "swish" every so often in school as a fluoride supplement. And as most of you from my generation will recall, it was gross. Luckily, delivery of fluoride has improved. My preference for fluoride supplementation, as determined on an individual patient basis, is fluoride varnish. Varnish is a tooth colored delivery that adheres to the teeth for about 12 hours to improve fluoride uptake, and is extremely fast to apply. Foam fluoride supplements are also successful, but have to remain in the mouth for 4 minutes (all while trying to keep a young kid from throwing up!).
To summarize, fluoride supplementation (when appropriate, based on a variety of factors influencing cavity risk), is a very effective way to minimize the need for more invasive dental treatment. Fortunately, this treatment is also very affordable...especially when compared to fillings, crowns, or root canals.
If you would like, check out the ADA's recommendations on fluoride supplementation HERE.
A more patient-centered breakdown of fluoride is located HERE.
A good dental decay/fluoride page courtesy of the CDC is HERE.
- "Fluoride." Parks and Recreation. NBC. 21 Nov. 2013. Television.
- Photo was taken from tumblr at http://nbcparksandrec.tumblr.com/post/64341710172/jamm