Glossary: Water fluoridation

Water fluoridation is the act of adding fluoride ions to water in order to reduce tooth decay in the general population. Many North American municipalities fluoridate their water supplies, citing this practice's effectiveness in reducing tooth decay, the safety of fluoridation, as well as its low cost. As of 2000, around two-thirds of US citizens have access to fluoridated drinking water.[1] The American Dental Association (ADA), World Health Organization (WHO), and some other health organizations recommend fluoridation of municipal water supplies to a level between 0.7 and 1.2 ppm. On the other hand, governments in some parts of the world have banned fluoridation, and the practice has provoked controversy. Where used in very low concentrations (on the order of parts per million), fluorides are used in human health applications; specifically, fluorides such as sodium fluoride (NaF), sodium fluorophosphate (SMFP), tin(II) fluoride (SnF2), and amine fluoride are common ingredients in toothpaste. Many dentists also give their patients semiannual fluoride treatments if they do not have a fluoridated water supply.