Published: April 26, 2016

    Is Fluoride Safe? The Great Debate

    The addition of fluoride into public drinking water has been a contentious issue ever since the practice began in the 1950s. On one side are a host of respected medical associations insisting the practice is safe and helps prevent widespread tooth decay. Opposing them are arguments that mass fluoridation is unethical, unhealthy, or unnecessary.

    What is Fluoride and Why Add it to Water?

    Fluoride is an ionic compound derived from fluorine, a highly reactive substance found naturally in many rocks. The compound binds to tooth enamel, making the tooth more resistant to acid produced by mouth bacteria.

    In most municipalities, fluoride is added to water at a concentration of 1 milligram per liter. In 2015, however, the US Department of Health and Human Services recommended dropping this amount to 0.7 milligrams a liter, in acknowledgment of the fact the general population has access to fluoride through toothpaste and mouth rinses.

    At present, the use of fluoridation to combat tooth decay is endorsed by three major groups:

    • The American Medical Association (AMA)
    • The American Dental Association (ADA)
    • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    Arguments Against Fluoridation

    Objections against fluoridation began in the 1950s and continue to this day. Some people are opposed on purely ethical grounds, contending fluoridation is a form of mass medication. Others argue the dosage cannot be controlled, as some people drink more than others, and are therefore ingesting higher amounts of fluoride.

    Still others argue easy access to fluoride toothpaste now makes fluoridation unnecessary at best, and exposes the population to high levels of the compound at worse. Exposure to excessive fluoride causes a condition known as dental fluorosis, which causes unsightly white streaks on teeth. Severe dental fluorosis can result in brown stains, pits, and broken enamel.

    The CDC itself admits dental fluorosis is common, with up to 41 percent of teens between the ages of 12 and 15 showing some signs of the condition.

    Dealing with Fluoride

    Check with your municipality to see if they add fluoride to drinking water. Not all cities do. Portland, Oregon, for instance, has rejected the idea of fluoridation four times since 1956, the latest rejection coming in 2012.  In most cases, however, you’ll find your water supply is fluorinated. Be aware fluoride also occurs naturally. A private well can draw groundwater containing more fluoride than municipal water.

    No matter your stance on fluoride, Pelican Water offers water filtration systems that reduces fluoride from drinking water or leaves it in. Our Pro 6-Stage Reverse Osmosis System is NSF-certified to effectively reduce 96.03 percent of fluoride while also filtering arsenic, lead, and cysts from your drinking water. Our Countertop Drinking Filter leaves fluoride untouched while reducing chlorine, chloramines, lead, cysts, mercury, and more. We also offer various fluoride water filters for those who want to bathe, drink, and shower without exposure to fluoride. For more on our products or your water filtration solution, contact a Pelican Water specialist today.