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Is Fluoride in Water Bad For You?

Is fluoride in water bad for you? Short answer: no. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Fluoride has been regularly added to America’s public water system supplies to help strengthen teeth and prevent cavities since 1945. 

According to the CDC or Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the addition of this mineral to drinking water has been found to reduce the risk of tooth decay by up to 25% for both children and adults. 

If you have ever wondered, is fluoride in water bad for you, or does reverse osmosis remove fluoride in the water? This guide has all the answers you’ll need. We’ll outline what exactly this mineral is and explore the potential benefits and drawbacks of fluoride, how you can measure the amount of fluoride in your water, and how you can regulate your fluoride intake with home water filters or water softeners. 

What is Fluoride? 

It is a mineral that can naturally be found in your teeth and bones. It’s also found in water, soil, plants, rocks, and even air. When we talk about the human consumption of fluoride, it is generally in regard to oral health. Dentists like fluoride because it strengthens the enamel of teeth, thus preventing the risk of forming cavities. 

Outside of the dentist’s office, this mineral can also be used:

  • In medical imaging scans
  • As a cleaning agent 
  • In pesticides 
  • In the formation of Teflon, steel, and aluminum products 

Where Does Fluoride Come From

Fluoride is a mineral that’s naturally present in the earth. Primary fluoride sources include:

  • Groundwater Groundwater naturally contains this mineral, with the amount varying depending on the area.
  • Drinking water – In the U.S., public drinking water generally contains .7 parts per million of fluoride. Though large countries like the U.S. and U.K. add fluoride to their drinking water, many countries choose to abstain from community water fluoridation.
  • Supplements Because fluoride is an integral part of a healthy diet, a fluoride supplement is available as a drop or tablet. These additional mineral sources are generally recommended for children over six months who have a higher risk of developing cavities in non-fluoridated areas. 
  • Food – Food may contain fluoride if they are processed with fluoridated water or if they absorb this mineral naturally from the soil. Tea leaves, brewed coffee, raisins, rice, oatmeal, and canned shrimp are just some examples of food that may contain low levels of fluoride.
  • Dental care products – Because fluoride is most often used to improve oral health, it makes sense that many dental products, like fluoridated toothpaste and fluoride mouthwash, contain this mineral. 

The Benefits of Fluoride in Water

The primary benefit of fluoride is that it strengthens tooth enamel. This may seem like a minor detail, but in reality, maintaining healthy teeth and oral health is an important way to also maintain a healthy body. Here’s why:

Tooth enamel protects the inner layers of your tooth from acids, bacteria, and plaque, all of which can lead to more serious severe illnesses. The reason has to do with the tooth itself. The inner layers of the tooth offer a direct path to the skeletal structures of your jaw and skull, circulatory system, and nervous system. The stronger the enamel, the more these parts of your body are protected. 

Let’s look at how fluoride keeps your gnashers strong, plus other benefits of adding fluoride to water:

  • Child dental health development – As children grow their chompers, it’s important that those little teeth are as tough as possible. Because fluoride is an essential part of teeth development, fluoride in drinking water systems can ensure children have strong teeth that are resistant to attacks from dental decay, acid, or bacteria which can lead to cavities and other issues. 
  • Healthy teeth Cavities are caused by bacteria taking up residence in your mouth. This bacteria will produce organic acids that damage your once-strong tooth enamel, allowing cavities to form. 

Fluoride, a naturally occurring mineral, can help prevent the loss of minerals from the tooth enamel and can also accelerate the repair process of putting minerals back into damaged enamel. Fluoride can also reduce acid production in your mouth, helping to prevent the formation of cavities in the first place.

  • Cost-effective– As stated by the American Dental Association, “The average lifetime cost per person to fluoridate a water supply is less than the cost of one dental filling.” To put it simply, for every $1 a city spends on water fluoridation, an average of $38 can be saved in dental treatment costs. 
  • Naturally occurring – As we’ve noted, fluoride is a natural mineral that is found within our bodies, as well as groundwater, air, and plants. Adjusting fluoride levels is far different from adding an unnatural chemical to drinking water supplies. 
  • Proven to be safe –  For more than seven decades, fluoride has been added to American public drinking water to help prevent cavities. This decision was and is based on concrete scientific evidence endorsed by the CDC, the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization, and other health entities. 

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The Drawbacks of Fluoride in Water  

Adding fluoride to water has proven effective when it comes to cavity reduction. But can too much fluoride ultimately cause your body harm? 

An excess intake of fluoride can cause:

  • Dental fluorosis – Dental fluorosis alters the appearance of your teeth. This alteration presents, most commonly, as white spots on your teeth or brown spots and weakened teeth (less common). 

This condition typically occurs during the formation of childhood teeth when children consume too much fluoride from multiple sources. This may look like a child ingesting fluoride toothpaste in large quantities, or consuming too much fluoride via fluoride supplements, plus drinking fluoridated water. 

  • Skeletal fluorosis – This is a bone disease that only happens when people are subjected to large quantities of fluoride exposure for long periods of time. 

This disease is most commonly found in countries like India and China, where there are longer periods of groundwater consumption with high levels of naturally occurring fluoride.

So should you be worried about an excess of fluoride in your tap water? Not necessarily. Some places have high levels of fluoride, which can cause health problems, as mentioned above, but typically the amount of fluoride found in groundwater is between a safe 0.01 to 0.3 parts per million. When groundwater approaches 4 parts fluoride per mission, it becomes hazardous. 

Translation? There would have to be 400 times more fluoride parts per million than the typical groundwater contains. In fact, according to a study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey, the fluoride concentration in most potable water wells sampled in the county were “below the optimal concentration recommended to prevent tooth decay.” 

High amounts of fluoride in your drinking water is extremely unlikely. According to the study mentioned above, you’re more likely not to be getting enough fluoride than you are to be getting too much. 

How Much Fluoride is In Your Drinking Water? 

Just because fluoridating water is a common practice in the U.S. doesn’t mean the city you live in currently adds this mineral to its public drinking supplies. 

To see whether or not your city fluoridates its water, head to the CDC website where there is a tool that allows you to see if your city adds fluoride to water and if so, how much. From there, you can gauge if your drinking water is providing enough fluoride for your health or if you need to increase your intake of this vital mineral. 

Get the Right Amount of Fluoride with Water Filters 

So, is fluoride in water bad for you? The short answer: when consumed in safe amounts, fluoride can be highly beneficial to your overall oral health. 

The suggested fluoride intake for adults over the age of 18 is a max of 3 milligrams of the mineral per day. Most public water systems in the U.S. contain .7 parts per million of fluoride. However, your county may not be introducing enough fluoride into the drinking water to ensure maximum health benefits for you, your family, and your whole community. In cases like these, it’s always best to take control of your health. Consider investing in a home water filtration system. 

Home water filtration systems can:

  • Improve the taste of water
  • Help increase vital mineral content
  • Reduces mineral deposits
  • Remove the presence of skin-irritating substances from your water
  • Help maintain the longevity of your plumbing system by removing substances that make water “hard” and can damage pipes in the long run

Trust Rayne Water to Improve Your Water Systems

Consider investing in a home water filtration system to control how much fluoride is in your drinking water.. Rayne Water Conditioning services are based in Arizona, California, and Nevada and can help you install reverse osmosis systems that will help clear your water of excess fluoride, as well as any contaminants. 

Interested in learning more about keeping your water safe and clean for your family? Our trained experts can help you find the perfect solution for your home water systems, like a reverse osmosis water filter system, so that you can enjoy better water quality every day. Check out our services and products today!

Sources:

American Dental Association. 5 Reasons Why Fluoride in Water is Good for Communities. https://www.ada.org/en/public-programs/advocating-for-the-public/fluoride-and-fluoridation/5-reasons-why-fluoride-in-water-is-good-for-communities 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Over 75 Years of Community Water Fluoridation https://www.cdc.gov/fluoridation/basics/anniversary.htm 

Healthline. Fluoride: Good or Bad? https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/fluoride-good-or-bad 

Healthline. What Is Fluoride, and Is It Safe? https://www.healthline.com/health/what-is-fluoride#TOC_TITLE_HDR_1 

Mayo Clinic. Oral Health: A Window to Your Overall Health. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/dental/art-20047475 

National Institutes of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements. Fluoride.  https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Fluoride-HealthProfessional/ 

Rayne Water. Effects of Fluoridated Drinking Water. https://www.raynewater.com/blog/effects-of-fluoridated-drinking-water/ 

U.S. Department of the Interior. A Comprehensive Assessment of Fluoride in Groundwater. https://www.usgs.gov/center-news/a-comprehensive-assessment-fluoride-groundwater?qt-news_science_products=1#qt-news_science_products