You might save money on dental treatment costs by simply turning on your tap and drinking water with optimal levels of fluoride — no matter what your age.
Researchers at the Indiana University School of Dentistry in Indianapolis studied patients of all ages who were members of a dental health maintenance organization and had access to dental care through their insurance coverage. Some patients lived in communities with an optimally fluoridated public water system; others did not.
Scientists found that patients with access to fluoridated water had fewer dental restorations and lower dental care costs during the five-year study period — and older adults benefited the most.
"Much of the focus of research on community water fluoridation has been on children," said Dr. Gerardo Maupomé, the lead author of the study. "There has been significantly less research on adults and even less on older adults. Individuals are keeping their teeth through adulthood into their older years. We need to study dental health through all decades of life."
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 67 percent of the U.S. population that receives water from a public water supply now drinks water with optimal fluoride levels for preventing decay.
Dr. Maupomé noted that although the study examined patients with dental insurance, many older adults, who are often retired, don't have dental insurance and need to protect their oral health.
"Community water fluoridation is a sound public health investment for people of all ages," he added.
To learn if your water is fluoridated, contact your local water supplier or the local/county/state health department. Additionally, many states participate in the CDC's "My Water's Fluoride" ("http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/MWF/index.asp") which lists fluoridation status by water system.
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