Preventing tooth decay is one reason given for why so many communities across America add a small amount of fluoride to their drinking water — a process called fluoridation. Even more importantly, preventing cavities helps to strengthen Americans’ overall health and success.
Education is a very good example. UCLA researchers found that California children missed an estimated 874,000 school days in one academic year due to toothaches or other dental problems. Other researchers in California have linked dental pain to lower grade point averages among teens. That’s only one state, but it provides a powerful snapshot of how dental problems can undermine children’s learning. Infected teeth or other serious dental problems can land children in hospital emergency rooms. One study discovered that dental-related visits by children to New York State hospitals cost more than $31 million over five years. In addition to the expenses, consider the pain and fear that those kids endured as they arrived in an ER. Fluoridation isn’t a silver bullet, but it should be one of the pillars of a state’s oral health prevention strategy.