Why I Want My Kids to Have Fluoridated Water
By Dr. Helen Chea (Pediatrician and mom of three)
As a busy mom to little ones myself, I know it can feel overwhelming to sort through all the suggestions about how to raise healthy kids. As a pediatrician, I also know that some of the most important decisions we make as parents are what our kids should eat and drink. When I talk to parents about healthy drinks, they are often surprised to hear that tap water is one of the healthiest options they can offer their children.
I always give my kids fluoridated water from the tap. It’s one of the easiest (and cheapest) ways I can make sure they stay cavity-free. But, I also understand that sometimes there is confusion about this topic – and that is why I look to the facts:
What is fluoride?
Fluoride (floor-eyed) is a naturally occurring mineral found in lakes, rivers, and even in Washington’s own Puget Sound. But nature needs a little help to provide the right balance of fluoride to benefit us and our kids. This is why communities across the nation have been balancing fluoride levels in their drinking supplies for nearly 75 years. Today nearly 210 million Americans have fluoridated tap water, resulting in improved oral health across the country.
Fluoride is nature’s cavity fighter.
When our kids eat sticky foods or drink juice, the germs in their mouths combine with the sugar from food and drinks to make an acid that attacks the tooth’s enamel. This “acid attack” causes cavities. Fluoride helps strengthen teeth and shield them from decay, preventing cavities in both baby and adult teeth.
Fluoride is especially important for parents and children who may not have access to essential services like routine dental checkups or fresh fruits and vegetables. That’s why medical and dental professionals, local governments and community organizations support fluoridation as a way to give everyone in Washington equal access to good health.
How to get fluoride for you and your family.
Fluoride comes from a variety of sources that all work together to protect our teeth. One source does not replace the other. Similar to how our cars, seatbelts and airbags all work together to increase our safety, it is important that everyone brush with fluoride toothpaste twice a day, drink water straight from the tap and when recommended by a doctor or dentist, use fluoride varnish.
Access to fluoridated tap water is, however, dependent on your community’s water. Only 56% of Washington residents have access to fluoride in their drinking water even though proper water fluoridation benefits the health of your family and your entire community. If you want to know about fluoride in your drinking water, the best way is to ask your local water provider or the Washington State Department of Health.
So, there you have it: the facts about fluoride. Not only is it totally safe for my entire family, it’s one of most effective, easiest and cheapest ways I can protect their oral and overall health — which is why it’s often referred to as the superhero of cavity fighting!
Visit Washington Water Fluoridation for more information.