Since the 1960s, fluoride has been added to municipal drinking water supplies. Currently, about 75% of cities participate in an effort to help prevent tooth decay, especially in children who are developing permanent teeth. Adding fluoride to the drinking water proved very cost-effective, and it’s estimated that for every $1 spent on water fluoridation, $38 is saved in dental work. Fluoride recommendations for municipal water supplies hasn’t changed in more than 50 years, since the program’s inception.
If the fluoride levels have worked so well for the past 50 years and third party scientific studies supported fluoride in the water, why is the US Public Health Services reducing fluoride recommendations for municipal water treatment?
The main reason for the US Public Health Services reducing fluoride recommendations is because there are so many dental products available to us now that weren’t before (like toothpaste and mouthwash). These products also contain fluoride, and combining this with the fluoride levels in drinking water, has the potential of causing a condition known as “dental fluorosis.” Dental fluorosis trends have slowly risen as we gain more access to fluoride through the products we use.
What is Dental Fluorosis?
According to the CDC, the only known risk of ingesting too much fluoride is a condition called “dental fluorosis.” Dental fluorosis is typically mild and causes white or discolored spots to form on tooth enamel. In severe forms of dental fluorosis, pits can form on the teeth, but thankfully severe cases are very rare.
How much is the US Public Health Services Reducing Fluoride Recommendations?
The original Federal Government recommendation was .7 to 1.2 mg fluoride to one liter of water. New recommendations fall at the lower end of the spectrum at .7 mg per liter.
For the full report, check out the 2015 PHS Fluoride Guideline.