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 to prevent tooth decay. That was 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. 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, and has remained, controversial. 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 after a referendum.

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 a range of 0.7 milligrams per liter for warmer climates where people drink more water. In cooler areas, they recommended 1.2 milligrams. 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Recent unpublished federal research found there's no regional differences in the amount of water kids drink.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 99 times


COMMENTS (100)
  • amandaFAB-Cla
    5/01/2015 - 01:52 p.m.

    Certain foods and beverages aren't consumed by everyone and not all company's would be willing to put in a chemical that could possibly change the taste of their product. Water is the most convenient and most popular drunken by people.

  • Liligs55
    5/01/2015 - 02:15 p.m.

    how come i never get white spots and i really don't drink water at school so to me it really doesn't matter i like any water i drink any water

  • sergiolo.antonio
    5/01/2015 - 04:22 p.m.

    Fluoride is a mineral (chemical element) which mainly serves to prevent dental caries. Although this function is very controversial, as there are people who have received unwanted effects due to drinking fluoridated water. In the US, he began to add fluoride in drinking water in 1945 in a city of the state of Michigan, and the results were evident since a study was made six years after its first application, and which came as a result, a decrease of dental caries in children.
    I liked the article, even already had prior knowledge of the subject, and I studied one semester of Dentistry, and I was interested to read this article because I wanted to know how this situation happens in the United States. In Chile this topic also debate even just one part of our country is not applied fluoride to drinking water for having had problems with the population of that region (Bo-Bo) in the past.
    Responding to the challenge, I think the reason why fluoride is applied to water and no food or beverages is because water can "dissolve" fluoride is where it acts much better than other foods. I also believe that, if applied in food, taste change, maybe their color, etc. The same happen with beverages. In water, as is a pure chemical compound, it can be perfectly combined with minerals, e.g. sodium chloride (salt).

  • rubelm-Koc
    5/01/2015 - 05:09 p.m.

    To much of anything can be bad even too much water . It's needed for survival and too much will intoxicate you . So yes it's ultimately bad for you .

  • VanessaC-3
    5/01/2015 - 06:56 p.m.

    I think that it can not be too much for our system and for our resource it being the main resource because even that we have a drout that makes is have no other choice but save fluoride and keep it to keep people alive and strive to have some thing in their system to having it being the only thing to drink out of the whole world than drinking sugar. In my opinion its better to save water to save us from the drout and live.

  • SebastianH-1
    5/01/2015 - 07:04 p.m.

    Could too much fluoride in drinking water be dangerous? It is causing abnormal white spots on kid's teeth, so people are getting concerned. Fluoride has always been controversial and people are wondering what will be the perfect balance. This article had a good size, but could have been more clear on how controversial fluoride is.

  • LucasF-1
    5/01/2015 - 08:00 p.m.

    To our inch fluoride can hurt your teeth. Dentists have realized that it is bad to use too much. It can hurt your teeth. In the past, people thought that fluoride was good. I think it is interesting in more ways than one. People always use fluoride to help whiten there teeth.

  • LucasF-1
    5/01/2015 - 08:00 p.m.

    To our inch fluoride can hurt your teeth. Dentists have realized that it is bad to use too much. It can hurt your teeth. In the past, people thought that fluoride was good. I think it is interesting in more ways than one. People always use fluoride to help whiten there teeth.

  • MaxMicheletti
    5/01/2015 - 09:28 p.m.

    This article is about the amount of fluoride in today's water. The normal amount in water is 0.7 milligrams. Fluoride helps clean our teeth, and is in most things that we use. It's in toothpaste, foods, and of course our drinking water. But too much of flourine is causin teeth to have white spots on it. These are very clean patches of teeth, but they are making adolescents self conscientious. Wow! I never knew that we had flourine in our water. I think that we should keep the flourine in our water because its good for your teeth.

  • HenryS-3
    5/01/2015 - 10:23 p.m.

    This article is about the government is lowering the recommended amount of fluoride in drinking water, because kids have been getting too much.Today, about 75 percent of Americans get fluoridated water. The fluoridated water causes your teeth to form white blotches.

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