The Great Fluoride Debate: Should You Worry About Chemicals In Your Water?

Posted on: 3 March 2015


Adding fluoride to water has been a common practice in America since the 1940's. Some medical professionals and dental associations believe it helps to reduce cavities and tooth decay. However, some people and some experts do not think that fluoridating water is healthy or ethical. Should you get a home water filtration system from a site like that removes fluoride from your tap water?

First, you should know what fluoride actually does to help your teeth.

Fluoride strengthens the enamel on teeth, which makes them more impervious to decay from raised levels of acid in the mouth. Most tooth care products have small amount of fluoride to help protect the teeth. Fluoride is most effective in topical applications. 

So, should you worry about the fluoride level in your water supply? 

Yes, if you are interested in making the choice yourself.

Many people, whether or not they believe in the health benefits of fluoride, think that using water as a means of mass-medication for the population takes away the freedom of choice that so many Americans enjoy. After all, regular dental visits, fluoride treatments, and regular brushing with fluoridated toothpaste are effective ways of delivering the associated health benefits. 

No, if you want to have an easy way to keep your children's teeth healthy.

Because children have a tendency to have poorer dental hygiene habits, fluoridated water can be a benefit for them. Most children's tooth paste does not contain fluoride, because fluoride is poisonous, and children are more likely to swallow toothpaste when they are young, instead of spitting it out. 

However, mouth wash and good parental guidance can be effective in preventing tooth decay in young children. A diet low in sugar and juice, as well as supervision during daily brushing, are effective in preventing cavities. 

Yes, if you are worried about the potential health hazards. 

Most people who are opposed to fluoride believe that fluoride does more harm than good for the human body. Continued exposure over a period of several years has sparked controversy because:

  • the fluoride used in over 90% of public water is created as by-product when manufacturing fertilizer, and this type of fluoride has not been used for most studies on whether or not fluoridated water is hazardous. One EPA scientist petitioned congress to make the testing of this chemical required in all future toxicity studies. 
  • over-exposure to fluoride can actually decrease the health of the teeth by causing fluorosis. The enamel becomes brittle and discolored. White and brown streaks begin to appear on the teeth, and if fluorosis is severe, the enamel breaks or develops pits, exposing the interior of the tooth to infections. This condition affects about 41% percent of adolescents. 
  • the science backing up water fluoridation is outdated. Currently, for any drug to be approved for the open market it must pass several randomized trials. Fluoride was added to water based on early science that showed some benefits. However, one medical journal expressed concern because, unlike modern drugs, fluoride has never been held to this standard. The journal recommended increased study on the benefits and risks, especially for young people. 

No, if the level of fluoride in your water is very low.

You may want to get a water company to come and test your water, to let you know whether or not the levels of fluoride in your water are good for you. A level of 1 PPM is safe, but the current EPA approved limit is 4 PPM, which can lead to dental fluorosis. If you find that your water supply is higher in fluoride than you are comfortable with, you should consider installing a filtration system, like a reverse osmosis system, to remove chemicals from your water.