Using Fluoridated Salt In Underdeveloped Countries

In the United States we’ve long been used to fluoride in our water, our toothpaste and other products to aid in cavity prevention. Iodine, a necessary nutrient vital for brain and body development, is found in salt and is also readily available in our country.

But in underdeveloped countries the threat of health issues from lack of both is being confronted in an interesting way.

Fluoridated salt can work wonders.

According to an article in The Dental Tribune fluoridated salt is being used to prevent cavities (also called caries) and also deliver iodine to those who would otherwise not have access to either.

Fluoridation of salt has been used in Switzerland since the mid 20th century and since the mid 80s about 15 European countries have adopted it as well. Now in Southeast Asia farmers are making the same salt in fields previously used for agriculture.

Saltwater is poured onto these fields and allowed to dry until only salt crystals remain. The crystals are then scraped up and processed in plants where its treated with a concentrated fluoride solution. The salt is then consumed by local peoples as a food and dietary additive. It’s estimated that this addition of fluoride and iodine could prevent both cavities and iodine deficiency. 

After initial successful trials in Cambodia the approach was introduced to other countries and supported by the World Health Organization, the Pan American Health Organization, regional health groups and the World Dental Federation. It has had remarkable results with big reductions in cavities in 12 year olds, 84% in Jamaica, 73% in Costa Rica and 40% in Uruguay. All this for just 6 cents per capita per year. Hopefully this process will be carried over into other countries to prevent what we Americans can take care of with a simple visit to the store for flouride toothpaste or just by drinking our flouridated water.

At Wagner Oral Surgery we believe that one of our duties as human beings is giving back to those who are less fortunate than we are. It’s what moves us to partake in mission trips to countries where dental care isn’t readily available. Our gifts enable us to help those who suffer daily discover a new day without pain and perhaps with a little smile. It’s the smiles that keep us going.

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