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Consensus Statement on Sugary Drinks

Sugary drinks are no longer a looming public health crisis, but a very real one. By working together, and acting now, we can prevent not only oral health damage, but obesity - a leading risk factor for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers.

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Fluoride is a natural mineral that occurs in the earth's crust and is found in many foods we eat and drink, and in all drinking water. The amount of fluoride in the water varies between areas. The two most significant sources of fluoride are fluoridated water and fluoride toothpaste.

Fluoride works in two ways: systemically and topically.

Systemic:  Fluoride builds into the developing tooth structure making them more resistant to decay. It is most effective when teeth get exposed to small levels of fluoride as they erupt through the gums.

Topical: Fluoride helps repair the early stages of decay by replacing the minerals lost on the surface of the teeth.

Water Fluoridation

This is the process of adjusting the natural level of fluoride in the water supply to the optimal level of between 0.7ppm to 1ppm (parts per million). The amount added is monitored to make sure that the levels stay within that range. Water fluoridation has both systemic and topical effects on teeth.

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Fluoride Toothpaste

Brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste is an effective method of reducing dental caries. In areas where the water supply is fluoridated it gives extra protection to teeth. For children under six years of age only a smear of fluoride toothpaste should be used and children should be discouraged from swallowing or eating fluoride toothpaste.

Fluoride Tablets

Fluoride supplements like these should only be used when recommended by a dentist or a dental therapist. Fluoride tablets are usually recommended where fluoridated water is not available and higher than usual level of decay is occurring in a child and family. It is best to consult with a dentist or a dental therapist before use.