A Family Dentist Answers: Is Fluoride in Drinking Water Safe?

When determining if fluoride in drinking water is safe or not, it is important to discuss the issue with your family dentist. With decades of research and many conflicting opinions in the field, you should know what you are doing before you drink water with fluoride in it. Many dentists provide fluoride treatments when patients come in for their regular checkups, but is it healthy to have fluoride more often?

What does fluoride do?

The American Dental Association gives five reasons that it is good for communities to have fluoride in their water. The belief is that fluoride can save money, it is a natural substance found in the ocean and groundwater, it is safe and effective, it prevents tooth decay and it provides protection against cavities for Americans of all ages. Even when fluoride mouthwashes and toothpastes are widely available to the average person from their family dentist, studies show that fluoride in drinking water can reduce the occurrence of cavities by 25 percent.

Fluoride in drinking water can reduce cavities

Until recently, it was believed that the benefits of drinking fluoridated water greatly outweighed the risks. In countries with fluoridated water, reports of tooth decay were decreased greatly as early as the beginning of the 20th century. Countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, South Korea, New Zealand, Israel, Ireland, Chile and Australia all reported lower levels of tooth decay.

While avoiding tooth decay is extremely important to oral health, the United States Public Health Service took a step it has not taken in over 50 years several summers ago. It lowered the suggested levels of fluoride that should be in drinking water. According to Harvard Public Health, this was done because the risks may have begun to measure out with the benefits, so a decrease was necessary.

Fluoride is natural in water

You may wonder why it is necessary to increase fluoride levels in community water supplies when it is already available in water sources. The truth is that while it does exist in almost all water supplies, there is not enough to protect the teeth. The government strongly regulates the amount of fluoride in the water and studies the risks and benefits aggressively to ensure that the average consumer is protected.

Fluoride in water saves money

An investment in fluoride in drinking water can save money in almost every state. For most cities, fluoridation saved $38 for every $1 invested through decreased dental treatment costs, shares the Campaign for Dental Health. The state of Colorado saved close to $149 million, and Texas saved up to $24 per child in one year. Statistics show that fluoride can reduce dental costs and save children and adults from dental treatments and procedures.

Conclusion

While there are some fears about the risks of fluoride in water, the reality is that the benefits far outweigh the costs. As professionals and researchers constantly study the effects of fluoride, consumers can rest assured that their drinking water is safe and the amount of fluoride they are receiving is appropriate. Your family dentist is likely to tell you that reducing tooth decay can save teeth, save money and protect patients from invasive dental procedures.

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