Community Water Fluoridation
Oral health in the United States is much better today than it was many years ago; however, cavities is still the most common chronic disease of children and the elderly. Adding fluoride to water supplies, also called Community water fluoridation (CWF), is the most efficient and cost-effective way to deliver preventative fluoride to everyone in a community, regardless of their age, income, or education. Over 75 years of research and scientific studies on CWF has proven its benefits including reducing cavities by about 25% for children and adults.
To find out the level of fluoride in your water, contact your local water operator or visit the "My Water’s Fluoride" webpage, for more information.
Additional Fluoridation Resources
The following resources, created by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Campaign for Dental Health, provide additional information about water fluoridation for both you and your patients:
Fluoride varnish, a highly concentrated form of fluoride, is applied to teeth to reduce sensitivity to hot and cold, make the teeth stronger, and prevent cavities. Due to its sticky form and the small amount used per application very little is swallowed. It is safe to use fluoride varnish as early as when a baby’s first tooth erupts and throughout a person’s lifetime.
Fluoride varnish is used a lot in public health measures. So it can be applied in WIC clinics, school-based programs, or even from your child's physician through a program called Cavity Free Iowa.
Cavity Free Iowa is a medical-dental initiative, launched in 2017, focused on early oral health care and prevention of early childhood caries. Recognizing that young children often see their primary care provider on a routine basis for well child visits, the goal of Cavity Free Iowa is to increase the number of children ages 0-35 months receiving preventive oral health services and dental referrals. Dental hygienists, serving as regional I-Smile Coordinators, are providing onsite oral health training for medical clinic staff to do oral screenings, risk assessments, fluoride varnish applications, and referrals to local dentists.
For more information about Cavity Free Iowa check out our question and answer document.
Fluoride in Toothpaste
For the healthiest mouth, it is important to brush with fluoridated toothpaste twice a day. There are hundreds of options for toothpaste including different flavors, but the most important factor is that it has fluoride.
Also, you can save your pennies by not using the amount of fluoride you see on toothbrushes in commercials. Adults need just a little more than a pea sized amount while children less than 3 need a just a smear of fluoridated toothpaste.
Silver Diamine Fluoride
Silver diamine fluoride (SDF) is a liquid medicine applied to a cavity (tooth decay) to stop it from growing. The silver kills the germs and the fluoride makes the teeth stronger. Because it can stop cavities from growing bigger, there may not be a need for a filling. This material can only be used by a dental hygienist or dentist either at the dental office or in public health settings, like WIC clinics. Please ask your dental care provider for more information.