Fluoridation

The Surgeon General has declared that the fluoridation of public drinking water was one of the ten greatest advances of the past century. A large volume of scientific evidence has determined that fluoride in the right concentration is both safe and critical to strengthening the teeth (greatly reducing the amount of decay).
   
In the 1950's my father (a well respected biochemist) helped our local water company initiate fluoridation in my home town of Appleton, Wisconsin. Many California communities including Palo Alto and San Francisco have had fluoridated water since the 50's and 60's. The South Bay is the only major part of the state where public drinking water is not fluoridated. In 1994, when The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission was considering extending the fluoridation of Hetch Hetchy water to South Bay communities, as a member of the board of the local dental society I took the initiative to propose that the board of directors of the Santa Clara County Dental Society present a position paper in favor of fluoridation. My fluoridation paper was unanimously accepted and I was selected to present it to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission in S.F. City Council Chambers.

T
oday, all Hetch Hetchy water including that coming to the South Bay is fluoridated. Unfortunately, Hetch Hetchy water only goes to Mountain View, parts of Los Altos and Sunnyvale (North of El Camino). There are still plenty of areas that don't get fluoridated waterI am very concerned that the rest of the South Bay be fluoridated as soon as possible.  In fact, though no longer on the board, I was recently chosen to chair the SCCDS Ad Hoc Committee to get San Jose water fluoridated. 

When the public drinking water is not fluoridated, children 12 years of age and younger should take supplemental fluoride in the form of a chewable tablet. Children at very young ages should be given fluoride drops. I feel that fluoride supplements are so important for children whose drinking water isn't fluoridated that I welcome the opportunity to prescribe such supplements when appropriate whether or not their families are patients in our office.

In our office topical fluoride is applied as part of our routine preventative cleaning appointments, though it is only a fraction as effective as fluoride ingested in the first 12 years of life. When fluoride is ingested it becomes a permanent part of the entire tooth providing a stronger barrier against bacterial tooth decay.

Topical application of fluoride is very beneficial for adults as the gums recede exposing roots that are not covered by enamel. The latest scientific studies suggest that adults are better served by having a fluoride treatment in lieu of polishing at the conclusion of a dental cleaning.