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,
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>