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

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

One study found about 2 out of 5 adolescents had tooth streaking or spottiness. It's primarily a cosmetic issue, said 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 in 1945. Six years later, a study found a dramatic decline in tooth decay among children there and the U.S. surgeon general endorsed water fluoridation.

Today, about 75 percent of Americans get fluoridated water.

But adding fluoride was and has remained controversial as opponents argue its health effects aren't completely understood and that adding it amounts to an unwanted medication.

Among the more recent dust-ups: Portland, Oregon voters rejected a proposal to add fluoride two years ago. This year, Sheridan, Wyoming resumed adding fluoride; the city stopped in 1953 after a referendum.

Water fluoridation has been a public health success and 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 a range of 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Recent unpublished federal research found there's no regional differences in the amount of water kids drink, so it makes sense for the same levels to be used everywhere, health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 unless 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 15 times


COMMENTS (26)
  • adrianas-Koc
    5/01/2015 - 06:32 p.m.

    I didn't know that flouride could cause spottiness in teeth, thats new. I always thought flouride was always good for you but then again too much of a good think can be harmful.

  • SydneyL-Kut
    5/03/2015 - 08:48 a.m.

    I think people should decide if the government puts fluoride in the water. There should be a vote, so that the government knows what people want. I think fluoride is added to water instead of other foods/beverages because everybody is going to drink water at some point; and no one is allergic to water.

  • franklynm-Koc
    5/03/2015 - 02:41 p.m.

    Fluoride can add slpots on the teeth of younger childer and adults. THis is found in adding too much fluoride in the water. They are deciding to remove fluoride from water to prevent these things that could happen. This interested me becasue this is the water many kids drink all around at playground and parks everywhere.

  • juanc-Koc
    5/03/2015 - 08:58 p.m.

    I think they put fluoride in the water because it can reach more people than put in food. Everyone drinks water, I think fluoride is good to have in our community. Fluoride prevents tooth decay so I would suggest all cities get with the program.

  • raymondp-Koc
    5/03/2015 - 11:17 p.m.

    i think its amazing that this is the first time I'm hearing about this. i never knew about fluoride till i read about this article. i will cut back on water till the changes are made.

  • justinb-Koc
    5/03/2015 - 11:26 p.m.

    Adding fluoride to the water in america is best method for delivering fluoride in all members of the community. all children should receive a good amount of fluoride so it makes their teeth stronger.

  • jennaw-Koc
    5/03/2015 - 11:42 p.m.

    But adding fluoride was and has remained controversial as opponents argue its health effects aren't completely understood and that adding it amounts to an unwanted medication.
    Among the more recent dust-ups: Portland, Oregon voters rejected a proposal to add fluoride two years ago. This year, Sheridan, Wyoming resumed adding fluoride; the city stopped in 1953 after a referendum.

  • jonahh-Koc
    5/04/2015 - 02:09 a.m.

    Flouride is added to help keep teeth white and cavity free. Its only added to water becuase everyone must drink water to survive. Other drinks are optional

  • chriss-Koc
    5/04/2015 - 02:12 a.m.

    I had no idea that fluoride was in water, and I also didn't know that fluoride can and will cause teeth streaks/splotches. I didn't think that teeth splotches were a huge problem, I never really thought much of them.

  • ethano-Goo
    5/04/2015 - 08:40 a.m.

    Fluoride is only added to water instead of other beverages like soda and pop for many reasons. The text states that fluoride is naturally in water so its naturally in the water you drink. The text also states that adding more fluoride in the water gives it more tooth decay fighting power. These examples from the text is why water is the most plausible to add fluoride in

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