Sunday, March 20, 2011

Dangers and Benefits of Fluoride in Our Drinking Water

There is a growing amount of concern over the dangers of fluoride in our drinking water. I commonly have inquiries from parents who are overwhelmed by the amount of conflicting information about fluoride on the internet. Some sources present fluoride as a wonder cure for cavities, while others warn of its damaging effects on teeth and bone. In order to make an informed decision about fluoride, I’ve compiled answers to some commonly asked questions.

Are we getting too much fluoride in drinking water?
Department of Health and Human Services, (with support from the California Dental Association) has recently changed the recommended optimal ratio of fluoride to water in community water systems to 0.7 parts per million. The previous optimal ratio ranged from 0.7 to 1.2 ppm. The CDA states that the current levels are safe and beneficial, although with the increasing amount of dental products on the market, including fluoride toothpaste and mouth rinse, it is important to monitor your child’s fluoride intake. Over-fluoridation can lead to 'dental-fluorosis'.

Signs we are getting too much?
One sign of over-fluoridation is ‘dental fluorosis’ which appears as white spots or markings on the enamel of the tooth. ‘Dental fluorosis’ is most commonly merely a cosmetic issue and serves no harm to the actual tooth. In rare cases of severe over-fluoridation, teeth can appear mottled and brown. These cases are most often not caused by government monitored drinking water, but rather polluted water sources.

Is it safe for kids?
The consensus form the scientific and dental community is that water fluoridating at the recommended level is safe and provides oral health benefits. Simply by drinking water, children and adults can benefit from fluoridation's cavity protection. Fortifying water with fluoride is similar to fortifying milk with Vitamin D. Fluoride is a mineral that becomes incorporated into the tooth, thus strengthening it. Fluoride is a proven safe and effective way to prevent dental disease—reducing the amount of tooth decay in children by 20-40%.

For additional questions please contact Dr. Josh Berd at
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