Fluoride levels in drinking water should be lower, according to the federal government. The availability of fluoride from other sources has reduced the amount of fluoride in drinking water necessary to prevent tooth decay. Some children have been getting overexposed to fluoride, which causes spots or streaks to appear on tooth enamel.
Optimizing fluoride levels in drinking water
Communities should back off on the amount of fluoride added to drinking water, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Since 1962, the recommended level of fluoride in water has been 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams per liter. Because of increased access to fluoride in toothpaste, mouthwash, supplements and dental treatments, the government said 0.7 milligrams per liter should be the maximum. Too much fluoride can lead to a condition called fluorosis–white spots or streaking on tooth enamel. A new DHHS study found that two out of five teenagers in the U.S. have developed a mild form of fluorosis. The American Dental Association said the lower recommended fluoride level will both reduce tooth decay and prevent fluorosis.
Benefits of fluoridation
Fluoride in drinking water is a practice that began in the 1940s. In the last 65 years, dental health standards in the U.S. have increased dramatically. Nearly 64 percent of Americans now have access to fluoridated public water supplies. According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 100 million Americans don’t have access to fluoridated water supplies. The CDC ranks fluoridated drinking water as a benefit to public health on par with vaccination, birth control and the recognition that smoking is hazardous to one’s health. Originally implemented to prevent tooth decay in children, fluoridated water has proven to deliver better dental health throughout a person’s life.
Fluoride conspiracy theories
Despite the science supporting fluoride in drinking water, conspiracy theorists have labeled the practice an evil government plot. During the 50s and 60s, conspiracy theorists said fluoridation of public water supplies was a communist plot. Other fluoride conspiracy theories include a government-enforced mass medication ploy, and even a plot for world domination by the Illuminati. The Nazis were alleged to have used fluoridation to make the German people submissive to their whims. Most recently, fluoride has been blamed for the U.S. obesity epidemic because it interferes with thyroid function.