Water fluoridation refers to a controlled addition of fluoride to a public water supply in order to reduce tooth decay. Fluoridated water has fluoride at a level that is effective for preventing cavities. It operates on tooth surfaces, and drinking fluoridated water creates low levels of fluoride in saliva.
The level reduces the rate at which tooth enamel demineralizes and increases the rate at which it remineralizes in the early stages of cavity.
Depending on the climate, the World Health Organization expert committee suggested a level of fluoride from 0.5 to 1.0 mg/L.
Dental cavities remain a major health hazard in most of the industrialized countries. It affects 60 to 90 percent of children and a vast majority of adults. Fluoridation of water prevents cavities in both children and adults. The effects of fluoride depend on the total daily intake of fluoride from all sources like drinking water, toothpaste, salt and milk.
Fluoridation does not affect the taste or appearance of drinking water and is normally accomplished by one of the three compounds to the water, i.e., sodium fluoride, fluorosilicic acid or sodium fluorosilicate.
Fluoride additives like sodium fluoride, sodium fluorosilicate and fluorisilic, used in water fluoridation are derived from apatite which is a type of limestone deposit used in the production of phosphate fertilizers. Apatite is the main source of fluoride and contains 3-7 percent fluoride. During processing, apatite is treated with sulfuric acid, producing phosphoric acid, plus a solid and two gases. The solid calcium sulfate is the material used to form drywall or sheetrock. The two gases, hydrogen fluoride and silicon tetrafluoride are captured in water to form fluorosilic acid which is the most common fluoride additive used today.
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