Chemical improves dental health but could be detrimental at high dosages
It is common practice for municipal water utilities in the United States to add fluoride to drinking water to promote good dental health and to decrease risk of tooth decay and cavities. Since its introduction in drinking water supplies and toothpastes, fluoride has been widely credited with improved dental health in the United States. Today, municipal water is now one of several sources of fluoride for Americans, including toothpaste and mouth rinses, prescription fluoride supplements and fluoride applied by dental professionals.
Fluoride is a chemical that can be very beneficial to dental health in appropriate doses, but may be less beneficial in higher doses. The Centers for Disease Control is reporting a sharp increase in the incidence of fluorosis (staining and mottling of teeth) since the 1980s. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s website: “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.”
On Jan. 7, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services proposed to lower the recommended fluoride level for dental health from 4 parts per million (ppm) to 0.7 ppm, and the Environmental Protection Agency, which enforces the amount of fluoride in public water supplies, has initiated a review of the maximum allowable amount of fluoride.
In the meantime, there are steps that can be taken to control the dose of fluoride children ingest. One method is to filter water in the home in conjunction with the use of fluoride supplements. Fluoride supplements can be prescribed by medical and dental professionals, often after a sample of the water is tested to verify that it is free of fluoride. Fluoride supplements allow parents to more closely control the actual amount of fluoride ingested, regardless of the amount of fluoride in the water supply or the amount of water children actually ingest.
The 3M Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water System is certified by NSF International for the reduction of fluoride in drinking water. When choosing a drinking water system, it is important to look for a system that has been tested and certified to NSF/ANSI test standards by an approved lab, such as NSF International.