Can fluoride be too much of a good thing? In this 2008 file photo, Tianna Swisher, a student at Liberty Valley Elementary School in Danville, Pa., attempts to drink from the water fountain at Montour Preserve near Washingtonville, Pa., during an outdoor field trip (AP photos)
Can fluoride be too much of a good thing?
Lexile

The government is lowering the recommended amount of fluoride in drinking water. That's because some kids are getting too much. It is causing white splotches on their teeth.

It's the first change since the government urged cities to add fluoride to water supplies. It was to prevent tooth decay. That was more than 50 years ago. Now, fluoride is put in toothpaste and mouthwash. It's in other products as well.

One study found about 2 out of 5 adolescents had tooth streaking or spottiness. It's primarily a cosmetic issue. That is according to Deputy Surgeon General Boris Lushniak.

The mineral fluoride is in water and soil. About 70 years ago, scientists discovered that people whose drinking water naturally had more fluoride also had fewer cavities.

Grand Rapids, Michigan became the world's first city to add fluoride to its drinking water. That was in 1945. Six years later, a study found a dramatic decline in tooth decay among children there. Then the U.S. surgeon general endorsed water fluoridation.

Today, about 75 percent of Americans get fluoridated water.

But adding fluoride was controversial. It still is. Opponents argue its health effects aren't completely understood. They say adding it amounts to an unwanted medication.

Portland, Oregon voters rejected a proposal to add fluoride two years ago. This year, Sheridan, Wyoming resumed adding fluoride. The city stopped in 1953.

Water fluoridation has been a public health success. Communities should keep adding fluoride, said Kathleen O'Loughlin, the American Dental Association's executive.

Lushniak added: "It is the best method for delivering fluoride to all members of the community."

Since 1962, the government has recommended how much fluoride should be added to water supplies. It ranges from 0.7 milligrams per liter for warmer climates where people drink more water to 1.2 milligrams in cooler areas. The new standard is 0.7 everywhere.

Recent unpublished federal research found there's no regional differences in the amount of water kids drink. So it makes sense for the same levels to be used everywhere, health officials said.

To limit fluoride for young children, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers this advice. Don't use fluoride toothpaste for children under 2. Not unless it is recommended by a dentist. Use only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste for children 2 through 6. And avoid fluoride mouthwash.

Critical thinking challenge: Why is fluoride added to water instead of some other food or beverage?

Assigned 20 times


COMMENTS (5)
  • John0724-YYCA
    5/04/2015 - 08:37 p.m.

    Well I should drink more water from the fountain because when I read this article it makes your teeth better when I thought those fountain water are really nasty because some people say that the fountain water comes from toilet water and it reuses it. So when it is an emergency I only drink the fountain water and I try to keep away as possible but from now I should drink more water from the fountain and it makes sense when they put the fluoride in the toothpaste so that is not very interesting.

  • afyn
    5/10/2015 - 09:53 a.m.

    Fluoride in drinking water prevents tooth decay. It is especially a big problem for the poorest segments of the population, and water is the cheapest and most natural product for tooth decay treatment.

  • Tiffany0307-yyca
    5/18/2015 - 09:35 p.m.

    I never knew fluoride was good, but also a bit bad too. It doesn't make sense to me because fluoride makes your teeth have white splotches, and the toothpaste always says that it cleans all your teeth perfectly, or something like it makes your teeth shine, or something like that. I wonder why fluoride is in drinking water now. I think I am going to avoid drinking water from my school water fountains, because I just read this article, and I think that our school water is just full with fluoride which can make white splotches on our teeth, and that is not good, even though it helps prevents tooth decays.

  • ben13-Bla
    5/21/2015 - 01:08 p.m.

    I think since different cities do or don't get cavities in fluoride there must be some thing in the product or fluoride in those areas.

  • brandond-Hyl
    6/19/2015 - 12:04 p.m.

    This article was good. This is because it gives me an idea of the history of flu ride. That is why this article was good.

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