If water supplies throughout the entire United States were fluoridated, our nation's dental health bills would be slashed by a whopping $100 million a year, the American dental association estimates. This may actually take place soon. A campaign has been made by The Department of Health & Welfare to aid in fluoridating 438 community water systems and 100 school water systems. About 6,800 communities or 46% of the population in the country already benefit from water fluoridation, and the number would continue to rise because of this.

According to a survey, 76 million adults who make up 51% percent of the population still have no idea what fluoridation is or what its uses are in spite of its widespread practice. Approximately 43 million adults seem to believe that it is used to clean water or to lessen the amount of pollution. Approximately 45 million using public water systems do not know whether or not their drinking water contains fluoride.

It is the goal of this new government drive to exert more in educating the public and making them understand the usefulness of fluoridation as a means of medical prevention against tooth decay. We have long known how to repair decayed teeth, but prevention of the decay has emerged only in the past quarter century. Regular sodium fluoride intakes while young can prevent more than 50% of decay and would even provide continuous benefits for one's dental health when they reach adulthood, thus minimizing the necessity of dental treatments that are usually given.

The act of fluoridating city water supplies is considered to be a health measure given more considerable thought and analysis than any other in history. The benefits and safety of fluoridation is backed up by more than 30 years of research and community experience. The possibility of children getting tooth decay may be reduced by about two thirds if they drink fluoridated water from the time they are born. There is a possibility that many children will have no tooth decay. Drinking water that is fluoridated will provide not only lifetime benefits, but it will also cut costs of dental health care by half.

Older people are receiving benefits from this. Teens who come from fluoridated communities do not suffer from cavities as much as teens who come from non fluoridated communities. Searching for economies is what the government is currently acting on as it endorses fluoridation as a preventive health measure. Government support will definitely be beneficial to communities who cannot afford to do fluoridation by themselves.

An annual total of $2 billion in treatment costs may be spent for 95% of all children because of some form of dental disease. Government officials regard fluoridation as the highest payoff of any preventive health measure other than polio immunization. A 25 cent investment annually would lower the expenses of restoring a child's permanent teeth by about $12. The Public Health Service did not spend more than $200,000 annually to promote fluoridation.

As much as $9 million per year was spent for the support of other researches made for preventive dental health measures. Among tested alternatives was fluoridating milk and bread. As much as $2 a year per child is spent for fluoridating milk as compared to just 25 cents per taxpayer for fluoridating water. Those who don't drink milk, are lactose intolerant, or allergic to milk would not be able to enjoy the benefits of fluoridation. Since an anti decay vaccine is not yet in existence, it is best that good dental health be established through fluoridation, proper nutrition, and good hygiene.

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