What’s the big deal about Fluoride: Part I
Your dentist tells you it is important to protect the enamel on your teeth. Reducing tooth decay may be a positive outcome of fluoride in water, but did you know that too much fluoride exposure is harmful to your health? The main source of exposure to fluoride, aside from toothpastes and mouth washes, is city water. In cases of excessive fluoride intake, drinking water is typically the most significant source.
Most city or municipal water contains trace amounts of fluoride. It is commonly added to water as a public health service through process called fluoridation. In fact, fluoride is added to approximately 70% of public drinking water systems across the U.S. as dental treatment. In Maryland, the percentage is higher with 96% of the public receiving fluoridated water.(1)
What’s The Right Amount?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) limit for fluoride in water is 4 milligrams per liter. Health guidelines set by the US Public Health Service recommend a much smaller concentration of 0.7 milligrams per liter. In many cases, this is the right amount of fluoride to benefit your teeth and gums without causing harm. However, levels of fluoride that rise above the health guidelines set by the US Public Health Service may put you at risk for a variety of problems.
Is Fluoridation Needed?
In the United States, the Oral Health Division of the Centers Disease Control (CDC) touts fluoridation as one of the “top ten public health achievements of the 20th century.” However, data from the World Health Organization reveals that there is no noticeable difference in tooth decay between the western nations that fluoridate water, and those that do not fluoridate.
It is becoming increasingly clear that fluoridating drinking water is actually an outdated and unnecessary process from the 1950s public health culture. In fact, the effectiveness of fluoride in water in under consideration. Here are three reasons why, according to FluorideAlert.org:
1. Fluoridation Is an Outdated Form of Mass Medication
Unlike all other water treatment processes, fluoridation does not treat the water itself, but the person consuming it.
2. Fluoridation Is Unnecessary and Ineffective
The most obvious reason to end fluoridation is that fluoride’s main benefit comes from topical contact with the teeth, not from ingestion. Ingesting fluoride at high levels can cause illness.
3. Fluoridation Is Not a Safe Practice
Finally, the most important reason to end fluoridation is that it is simply not a safe practice, particularly for those who have health conditions that render them vulnerable to fluoride’s toxic effects.
Stay tuned for a follow-up discussion. We’ll explore the negative effects of fluoride, the amount of fluoride allowed by the national guidelines and alternatives to treat your water.