Many municipalities add fluoride to the public water supply, but Republic Township does not. To make up the difference, the school on 227 Maple Street will be giving student weekly fluoride “swishes.”
“I think that it helps, we have no fluoride in our water here, so for them it’s a great way to teach them about what the fluoride does for their teeth and how it keeps them from getting cavities and protecting their teeth,” said Ann Wilder, fifth grade teacher.
Fluoride is a mineral found naturally in tooth enamel. With time, the compounds in your mouth and in food wear down the enamel, leading to tooth decay.
“Fluoride is very beneficial for teeth, it helps them,” said health educator Rebecca Maino. “They’re more resistant in acids, so when children are eating carbohydrates or sugary foods and the acid level dips down in their mouths, the fluoride strengthens them. It can re-mineralize the tooth surface, the enamel.”
State statistics show that Upper Peninsula third grade students have more dental decay than their counterparts in the Lower Peninsula, but Wilder says the program has seen an nearly 30 percent reduction in tooth decay. Students have also noticed a difference.
“I think it’s better for us to be having better teeth because before they started the fluoride program,” said student Andrew Somerl. “I’ve been getting a bunch of cavities every year.”
The fluoride comes in different flavors, including grape, very berry, mint, and bubble gum. A fluoride regimen in not a substitute for daily brushing and flossing with regular dental visits.
Students must get written parental approval to participate in the program. They can then use the fluoride rinse for one minute once a week, under adult supervision