CDC- Facts About Fluoride Contamination.

Facts: Fluoride Contamination.

Fluoride – Where can you get all the facts about fluoride contamination?CDC

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is proposing a change to the recommendation for the optimal fluoride level in drinking water to prevent tooth decay. The new recommendation, 0.7 milligrams of fluoride per liter of water, replaces the previous recommended range of 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams per liter. There are several reasons for this change, including that Americans have access to more sources of fluoride than they did when water fluoridation was first introduced in the United States. The new guidance will update and replace original recommendations provided in 1962 by the U.S. Public Health Service.

This fact sheet provides information on community water fluoridation, as well as current federal activities to update guidance and regulations on community water fluoridation.

What is fluoride?

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that is proven to protect against tooth decay.

Why is fluoride added to water and toothpaste?

Fluoride’s action in preventing tooth decay benefits both children and adults throughout their lives. The health benefits of fluoridation are—

  • Fewer cavities and less severe cavities.
  • Less need for fillings and tooth extractions.
  • Less pain and suffering associated with tooth decay.

How does fluoride work to prevent tooth decay?

Fluoride works by stopping or even reversing the tooth decay process. It keeps tooth enamel strong and solid. Tooth decay is caused by certain bacteria in the mouth. When a person eats sugar and other refined carbohydrates, these bacteria produce acid that removes minerals from the surface of the tooth. Fluoride helps to remineralize tooth surfaces and prevents cavities from continuing to form.

What is community water fluoridation?

Almost all water contains some naturally occurring fluoride, but usually at levels too low to prevent tooth decay. Many communities choose to adjust the fluoride concentration in the water supply to a level beneficial to reduce tooth decay and promote good oral health. This practice is known as community water fluoridation. Given the dramatic decline in tooth decay during the past 60 years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) named water fluoridation one of Ten Great Public Health Interventions of the 20th Century.

Why is the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) developing new recommendations for community water fluoridation?

Sources of fluoride have increased since the early 1960s. At that time, drinking water and food and beverages prepared with fluoridated water accounted for nearly all of an individual’s fluoride intake. Today, water is just one of several sources of fluoride. Other sources include dental products such as toothpaste and mouth rinses, prescription fluoride supplements, and professionally applied fluoride products such as varnish and gels. Recognizing that it is now possible to receive enough fluoride with slightly lower levels of fluoride in water, the HHS set out to develop new recommendations for community water fluoridation.

How is HHS developing new recommendations?

In September 2010, the Department of Health and Human Services convened a panel of scientists from the across the U.S. government to review new information related to fluoride intake and to develop new recommendations for community water fluoridation.

The scientists reviewed the best available information on: the prevalence and trends in dental caries, water intake in children in relation to outdoor air temperature, changes in the percentage of U.S. children and adults with dental fluorosis, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new assessments of cumulative sources of fluoride exposure and risks of children developing severe dental fluorosis.

This new information led HHS to propose changing the recommended level for community water systems to 0.7 milligrams per liter. The current recommended level is a range of 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams per liter. An announcement about the proposed changeExternal Web Site Icon was published in the Federal Register. Public comment on the new proposed optimal fluoridation level is being sought and may be provided for 30 days. Comments will be considered by HHS in finalizing a new recommendation for community water fluoridation in the United States.

How were the recommended levels previously set for fluoride in drinking water?

In 1962, based on scientific studies showing that fluoride reduces tooth decay, the U.S. Public Health Service recommended the amount of fluoride in drinking water range from 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams per liter. Scientists set the range by taking into account different levels of children’s fluid intake according to the average annual temperature in different regions of the United States—less fluoride was added in warmer, southern climates where it was believed that people drank more water, and more was added in cooler, northern climates where it was believed that people drank less. Over the past several decades, many factors, including the advent of air conditioning, have reduced geographical differences in water intake.


Potential adverse health effects from overexposure:

What people can do: