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Table salt fluoridation can reduce the prevalence of dental caries up to 84 per cent, according to a new book published by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in the USA. The book, Promoting Oral Health: The Use of Salt Fluoridation to Prevent Dental Caries claims that salt fluoridation programmes over the last decade have placed the countries of the Americas at the leading edge in reducing dental caries, and these programmes are now being replicated in other regions. "Dental caries is the most common childhood disease and can be avoided thanks to salt fluoridation," said PAHO's Dr. Saskia
1) How much fluoride is in “fluoridated salt”?
Salt is most commonly fluoridated at 250 parts per million (ppm) (range 200 - 350ppm) which means 2,5 mg of fluoride for every 10 grams of salt.
It was presumed that the “individual application” (meaning use of the salt shaker at the table, for the “sprinkling over food”) would contribute 1 to 4 g of the daily salt intake, thus a person would take in 1 mg of fluoride a day at a salt intake of 4 grams a day - 1 mg/day being the “optimal” dose of fluoride intake to “protect against caries”.
However, the majority of the fluoridated salt is not used for “sprinkling over food” but for domestic food preparation (cooking, baking, etc) - just like fluoridated water is not merely used for drinking. The use of fluoridated salt (250 ppm) for baking alone may provide much more than the “optimal” intake already for anyone consuming baked goods.
2) When did the use of fluoridated salt start?
In 1955 Switzerland became the first country to fluoridate salt, originally at 90 ppm. The amount was later raised to 250 ppm. France became the second country to do so in 1986, quickly followed by Jamaica and Costa Rica where there is now “universal” salt fluoridation.
3) What is “universal” salt fluoridation?
“Universal” salt fluoridation means that all salt destined for human consumption is fluoridated - not just the “salt in the shaker on the table”. This situation exists in numerous cantons in Switzerland, as well as many countries in South America.
Jamaica, Costa Rica, Columbia are all countries with such “universal” salt fluoridation.
“Universal” salt fluoridation is now described as the “ideal situation” by dental public health experts (Marthaler, 2000).
“Universal” salt fluoridation is being set up through legal channels. It is being mandated on national levels.