Fluoride in City Water

I received an email request this week to publish a post about the effects of adding fluoride to drinking water.  Here’s what I have come up with:

The addition of fluoride in drinking water only results in health complications when the concentration added to the water exceeds a certain amount (Grush).  The U.S. Public Health Service announced a few guidelines for fluoridation that upholds the safety of the drinking water: they suggest that the concentration of added fluoride should exist somewhere between 0.7 through 1.2 ppm (parts per million) (Grush).  When the fluoride concentration in drinking water reaches beyond this range, fluorosis, an adverse effect of excess fluoride, occurs (Grush).  Ironically, fluorosis results in the tooth degradation and decay (the exact things that the fluoride was trying to prevent in the first place) (Grush).  Most of the time, the initial effects of fluorosis can be found only in the physical appearance of the teeth (Grush).  However, a type of bone disease, known as skeletal fluorosis, can result from excess fluoride consumption (Nordqvist).  This disease leads to health complications such as hyperparathyroidism (thyroid issues), faulty joint movement, and an individual’s susceptibility to bone fractures can increase dramatically (Nordqvist).

Is fluoride necessary?  It depends upon a person’s eating habits and dental habits (Nordqvist).  While there’s zero doubt that fluoride prevents cavities and encourages the process of remineralization, the amount of fluoride that should be added to drinking water varies from city to city, country to country (Nordqvist).  Interestingly, the majority of European countries do not add fluoride to their drinking water (Nordqvist).  For the few countries that do, the statistics in these countries suggest that the amount of fluoride added to water has no effect on the erosion of their teeth (Nordqvist).  After I reflected upon this, I hypothesize that this statistic could be a result of the food culture in Europe, the processed food industry is a lot less pervasive there, explaining the reason behind cavities being independent of fluoride concentration in European drinking water.  On the other hand, the processed food industry tends to dominate our American food culture, and our diets consist of excess sugars.  This is part of the reason why an overwhelming number of the major U.S. cities have made the decision to add fluoride to their drinking water (Main).  But is this decision right for your city?  I’d say it depends on the collective health of the city’s population, and also the amount being added… I hope that this helps!

Until Next Week… Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie 🙂

Works Cited

Grush, Loren. “Portland’s fluoride debate: Is adding fluoride to drinking water dangerous?” Fox News. 24 May 2013. Fox News Network LLC. 2014. Web. 2 Dec. 2014. <http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/05/24/portland-fluoride-debate-is-adding-fluoride-to-drinking-water-dangerous.html>

Main, Douglas. “Facts About Fluoridation.” Live Science. 3 June 2013. Purch. n.d. Web. 2 Dec. 2014. <http://www.livescience.com/37123-fluoridation.html>

Nordqvist, Christian. “What is fluoride? What does fluoride do?” Medical News Today. 8 Sept. 2014. MediLexicon International Ltd. 2014. Web. 2 Dec. 2014. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/154164.php>


8 thoughts on “Fluoride in City Water

  1. Boo Radley

    I feel very fortunate to have well water so therefore it is not fluoridated. To me there are several drawbacks to fluoridating the water supply.

    1) It is done for medicinal reasons. Yet every man, woman and child receives the same “dose” regardless of their size or “need” for fluoride. I want to be able to choose when I take medicine.

    2) The body has no need for fluoride; It is not an essential nutrient.

    3) Fluoride works topically, not systemically. So why would we drink it? Especially since…

    4) The body can only eliminate about half of the amount of fluoride ingested. Over time fluoride accumulates in the body.

    5) A high level of fluoride seems to cause a number of health defects, including, but not limited to those listed here.

    6) Worst of all, there is no indication that fluoridating the water does anything to help prevent tooth decay. A National Institute of Health study found no significant relationship between tooth decay and fluoride intake among children.

    To me this is a case of “when in doubt, leave it out!”

    Great post, Katie! 🙂

  2. Tom Walkey

    Great essay on fluoride. I personally think that the least amount of chemicals we put into our bodies, the better off we are. There are just too many chemicals going into everything we eat these days. Most of these chemicals/steroids are induced into our cattle in their feed to make them fatter, tastier, whatever. These chemicals have been totally rejected by most European countries and other countries worldwide.
    We’re turning into a drug society. Just turn on your TV any time during the day and most of the commercials are selling one kind of drug or another. Just like when I was a kid, the TV commercials were all about cigarettes. We finally smartened up and got rid of these ads. Let’s leave recommending the proper medicine up to our doctors.

  3. El

    Katie, I think that we come in contact with far too many chemicals on a day to day basis. Let’s not add chemicals like fluoride into our water! Thanks for keeping us informed.

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