Fluoride Shortage

The 4,000 gallon tank that holds Nacogdoches' fluoride supply is almost empty. About a week's supply of fluoride is left. Once it's gone, the city will temporarily stop injecting the additive during water production.

Suppliers say lower fluorine levels in phosphorous rock are contributing to the shortage. Water Utilities Manager Russell Grubbs explained, "With lower content, they're expecting about a 38% decrease in their production. There is a 20% increase in the amount going to California for the production of microchips." Fluoride is often used as a cleanser during the etching of computer parts.

Chances are the fluoride shortage will show up in other cities. Fluoride suppliers other than the one used by Nacogdoches also report they're having a difficult time getting the product.

What should adults and children do to get the right amount of fluoride? You probably don't have to do anything at all. You are probably getting sufficient amounts of fluoride if you practice good dental hygiene.

Most toothpastes and mouthwashes contain fluoride, too. Since it's in so many products, few dentists are overly concerned that Nacogdoches drinking water will be missing the additive for a while. Dr. Kevin Guzman, dentist at East Texas Community Health Center said, "I wouldn't recommend it for a prolonged time. For a few months--I don't see a problem in that."

If you go to the dentist regularly, you're receiving the fluoride you need to make your teeth strong. Dr. Guzman, like most dentists, provides fluoride treatments when patients have their teeth cleaned. It's recommended you do this every six months.

A Styrofoam tray is filled with a flavorful fluoride solution. It sets in your mouth for about a minute to protect you against decay.

Even without a dental visit, you receive fluoride in other ways. Guzman said, "You [may] get it from some bottled water, foods, and juices."