Do you trust your tap water? People are naturally concerned about what they put in their bodies, and most municipalities in the United States treat their drinking water with various chemicals - including fluoride.
Yet despite the fact that about 75 percent of U.S. communities now add fluoride to water, some places still resist it. For example, voters in Portland, Ore., rejected a measure in 2013 that would have added fluoride to their water supplies. Fluoride Action Alert keeps a list of cities that have rejected community fluoridation since 1990.
Is the amount of fluoride in your community water systems something you need to be concerned about? No. In fact, fluoride in water at low doses has major health benefits and can help protect your tooth enamel.
Public Health Breakthrough
Conventional wisdom and scientific studies say that fluoride in water is a good thing, especially for your dental health. Numerous studies have shown that it can prevent tooth decay in children and adults, helping to keep you healthy and saving you money on dentist visits.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) points out that community water fluoridation is recommended by nearly all public health, medical, and dental organizations, including the American Dental Association (ADA), American Academy of Pediatrics, U.S. Public Health Service, and World Health Organization.
“Water fluoridation continues to be the most cost-effective, equitable and safe means to provide protection from tooth decay in a community,” then-Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona said in 2004. “Water fluoridation is a powerful strategy in our efforts to eliminate differences in health among people and is consistent with my emphasis on the importance of prevention.”
According to the CDC, fluoridation is one of the 10 greatest public health achievements of the 20th century. In fact, the ADA claims, every dollar spent on fluoridation saves $38 in dental costs!
Grand Rapids, Michigan was the first town to fluoridate the water supply in 1945, and many other cities soon followed their lead. About 210 million people get the chemical in their every-day drinking water, added at one part per million or less.
How Does Fluoride Get in Our Water?
The American Fluoridation Society explains as groundwater flows over rocks, it picks up fluoride ions which originate from those rocks. These fluoride ions are what is commonly referred to as being “naturally occurring” fluoride. The fluoride ions added during fluoridation are identical to these “naturally occurring” fluoride ions.
In some cases (if levels are higher than one-in-a-million), treatment plants dilute the water to reduce the level of the chemical.
The ADA likens this to fortifying other foods and beverages — for example, fortifying salt with iodine, milk with vitamin D, orange juice with calcium and bread with folic acid.
Backlash Against Fluoride
So why is community water fluoridation controversial? There are multiple advocacy groups that speak out against fluoride in water.
Some groups claim – in spite of the overwhelming data - that fluoride doesn't prevent cavities. Others worry about dental fluorosis, permanent staining of young children's teeth that occurs when they consume too much of the chemical. To prevent fluorosis, dentists recommend that children use only a pea-size dollop of fluoride toothpaste, in case they swallow it, and to not let children under six use mouthwash that contains fluoride for the same reason.
However, if you are still worried and do decide you want to remove fluoride from your drinking water, you have various options.
You can install reverse osmosis, deionizing or activated alumina filters on your faucets. You could also use a water distiller, take fluoride supplements, or purchase spring water that doesn't have fluoride in it. Just be sure to make an extra effort with your oral hygiene. Contact us at 1-877-BEN-1776!