Fluoride in drinking water is always a hotly debated topic. Is fluoride good for you? How much is too much? Is the government trying to poison its citizens with toxins?
Both sides will find fault with each other’s argument, but there is some important information related to adding fluoride to drinking water.
First off, adding fluoride to the water supply isn’t a mandatory regulation by the federal government (note: depending on the water, it may already contain some naturally occurring low levels). In fact, the federal government only regulates and gives guidelines for when the fluoride levels are too high. Many counties and local municipalities add fluoride on their own terms. Check with your local government to find out if fluoride is being added to your own water supply and how much.
Too much fluoride is definitely bad. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, “Exposure to excessive consumption of fluoride over a lifetime may lead to increased likelihood of bone fractures in adults, and may result in effects on bone leading to pain and tenderness. Children aged 8 years and younger exposed to excessive amounts of fluoride have an increased chance of developing pits in the tooth enamel, along with a range of cosmetic effects to teeth.” A study conducted in England also shows an increase in hypothyroidism with a population who drinks fluoride-treated drinking water over those who drink water with lower levels.
Fluoride does offer some benefit to a person’s teeth: In 2013, a study showed that adults who were exposed to fluoride in their drinking water for 75 percent of their lifespan had 30 percent less tooth decay than those exposed for 25 percent of their lifetime.
The problem is that the level of fluoride currently deemed safe was established 40 years ago. The upper limit for fluoride is set at 4.0 milligrams per liter by the EPA, but a study published by the National Research Council says that’s too much and should be lowered.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 41 percent of adolescents suffer from some level of over fluoridation in the teeth, known as dental fluorosis. The high amount of fluorosis cases isn’t just from drinking water alone, but also from toothpaste. Combining the two is a problem.
So, you check with the local municipalities and find out that your city or county indeed adds fluoride to its water supply, what’s the next step if you want to play it safe? The first and probably easiest step would be to purchase a water filter and drink all of your water through that.
Not all water filters will get rid of fluoride though. Look for filters that use one of these three methods: reverse osmosis, deionizers or activated alumina. Filters like Brita or Pur use activated carbon filters, which don’t get rid of fluoride.
Other ways to reduce fluoride intake include buying mountain spring water and to make sure not to swallow toothpaste while brushing teeth.