Fluoride or No Fluoride . . . that is the question. No, we are not recommending dental hygiene practices via Shakespeare. Fluoride is a compound that has been shown to make teeth stronger and healthier, and over 75 percent of American communities have fluoridated water
. But is it really necessary?
While fluoride is naturally occurring in water and some plants, the amount produced is minute. Thus cities began adding extra fluoride to the water supplies. This fluoridated water was shown to reduce nationwide tooth decay by 25 percent. Recently, however, a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) detailed an increase in children suffering from dental fluorosis
, a condition where too much exposure to fluoride results in white or yellow spots on the teeth.
The public has grown increasingly skeptical about the benefits of fluoride
, and some communities are now opting out of adding fluoride to their water supplies. Is this really a good move? The For, the Against
The federal government and federal health organizations like the United States Health Service and CDC are saying no. While it will save each community around $200,000 a year by discontinuing the fluoridation of water, government officials say the benefits are believed to far outweigh any savings. According to them, since the practice of adding extra fluoride to the water supply was introduced in the 1940s, it has seen many successes.
Critics who oppose fluoridated water argue that we are receiving too much fluoride on a daily basis. The water is fluoridated; you get it with all the fruits and vegetables you eat, the tap and spring water you drink, and on top of that all that you get through your toothpaste. They also argue that while dental fluorosis may not be dangerous, the teeth are a window into the other bones. If they are getting affected by too much fluoride, the other bones probably are as well. Excessive fluoride intake could lead to increased bone fractures as an adult, and joints may become easily sore or tender. What the Scientists Have to Say
Research was conducted by a panel of scientists, dental hygienists, chemists and doctors to determine if the fluoridated water was necessary. The results suggested that water fluoridation was no longer needed, did not provide as much benefit as it once used to, and was not necessary for healthy teeth. It was found that the amount of fluoride included in toothpaste was sufficient for normal, healthy teeth, and every other channel of fluoride intake was excessive.
With 72 percent of the American population currently drinking fluoridated water, there is no way to tell what adverse effects removing the fluoride from the water would cause. New parents are advised to occasionally use distilled water with baby formula instead of solely using fluoridated water, as this can help prevent fluorosis from developing in their babies.
With more and more towns and counties removing fluoride from their water supply, it could mean one of two things: either more money saved and fewer dangerous compounds, or a potential mistake that could lead to an increase in tooth decay