29 No. 6
For a Healthy Smile . . .
The addition of fluoride to drinking water supplies, at a level of ca. 1 ppm, is a health practice prevalent in communities across the USA and other countries that has undoubtedly contributed to the reduction of tooth decay in the general public since its inception in the 1940s. Even though water fluoridation is not universal, fluoride is also often added in small amounts (ca. 0.5%) to toothpastes and other oral hygiene products and thus its beneficial effect does reach a large segment of the population.
The stamp from Iceland that accompanies this note was issued on 9 October 1987 to promote oral hygiene and shows a girl brushing her teeth with a fluoride-containing toothpaste before going to sleep, a pretty clear message about the importance of such practice. On the other hand, the Brazilian stamp was issued on 15 July 1977 to celebrate the 3rd International Congress of Odontology, held in Rio de Janeiro on 15–21 July of that year. It prominently displays a rod of Asclepius, the emblem of the medical profession. The Portuguese words for water and fluorine (agua and fluor, respectively) and the chemical formulas of water and sodium fluoride appear several times in the background, thereby underscoring the value of water fluoridation to prevent dental caries. Sodium fluoride, together with stannous fluoride (SnF2) and sodium monofluorophosphate (Na2PO3F), are the three most common sources of fluoride currently added to toothpaste formulations.
Written by Daniel Rabinovich <[email protected]>.
Page last modified 20 November 2007.
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